Illustration by Tyler Carpenter
It’s rare for gun owners and democratic leadership to come to a mutual understanding on gun control measures, as shown during the Pizza and Politics event Nov. 14 in the Ragan Theater.
The best way to make a difference is to get involved locally, according to the pane that included Stuart Wallam, owner of local gun store Get Some Guns and Ammo, Justin Anderson, vice chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party and Jaxon Olsen, chief justice of UVUSA and organizer of the Pizza and Politics event.
“We all want to get rid of violence but we want to do it in a way that respects the individual,” Anderson said. “There is an aspect of our culture that embodies violence and praises violence (video games, music, movies). We need to eliminate the love for violence in our homes. Gun violence needs to be addressed at home.”
Gun violence does have the most impact at home — two-thirds of the 33,000 annual deaths caused by firearms are suicides.
Olsen asked if mental health needs to be a part of the gun control debate if suicides play such a large part in gun violence. “If it’s two-thirds of gun violence, it needs to be two-thirds of the debate,” Anderson said.
“Respectfully, [suicide] has a pebble in a pond effect, an act that causes ripples among many aspects of [someone’s] life,” Wall said. “It needs to be discussed.”
Anderson capitalized on the discussion by adding that other foreign countries have been able to enact gun control measures to reduce gun violence. Measures that have reduced occurrence of events like suicide and mass shootings.
“I wish people would get informed, that they would look at statistics, and investigate,” said a student at the event who wished not to be named. “They don’t just accept a statistic, but, they look at how the statistics correlate.”
The panel invited everyone to get involved and learn more about firearm usage and gun control culture in order to reduce the violence seen at home and in local neighborhoods.
“People think that I am a warmonger when they find out I am a gun owner,” Wallam said. He said there is a stigma often directed at gun owners after major events occur such as mass shootings.
“How many of you have never shot a gun?” Wallam asked. A small number of hands went up in the theater of approximately 150 people. “Educating yourselves is the way to go, get [involved], be informed, and be a local participant.”
“I think it was nice to get two members from the local community involved and hear from their backgrounds. We were asking a lot of nationally involved questions from two people that are local,” Casey Jefferies, a sophomore in psychology, said.
If you, or someone you know has thoughts about suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.