The Society started the year off with an explosion of eloquence debating Resolved: The United States should implement stronger gun measures. Mr. Stromeyer started the year off by framing the topic as one that is timely but unfortunately lacking adequate discussion. He proceeded to establish the framework for the debate as one that focused on the US as a country and that the federal level would be analyzed. Furthermore, there would be no question of the constitutionality of the 2nd amendment as the Supreme Court has confirmed the amendment but allowed for limitations and regulations on the right to bear arms. He then asserted that, with the US civilian population owning over 300 million guns and with thousands killed or injured every year because of guns, the US’s gun problem has reached new heights. In addition, the US culture around guns has changed as we are no longer a frontier nation and our laws must adapt to fit with the change. When closing his case, Mr. Stromeyer argued for common sense gun control regulations like requiring background checks at gun shows.
Ms. Cleary in her defense of the negation started by quoting John Locke and how governments only have a right to coerce their citizens by voluntary means. She then proceeded to show how our society values individualism and would later reference this further with her identification as Americans having rugged individualism as a core value. Ms. Cleary then went on to attack six common arguments made by those who believe in stronger gun control measures. She cited data from the FBI showing how crime dropped as gun restrictions were decreased and how criminals buy guns illegally. She then argued that the government should only be involved when a law is violated. Rights and hobbies like hunting should not be impeded by the government. Ms. Cleary concluded by proclaiming: “Stay out of my gun cabinet!”
Mr. Mitchell opened up the floor by telling how military grade guns are unnecessary for civilians and how the margins are the weakest area for the negation. Ms. Marki responded by saying how laws don’t affect the extremes and argued that guns can save lives in self-defense. Ms. Kikeri argued that more background checks are needed as only about 40% of all gun purchases have background checks. Mr. Whitfield told of how Switzerland requires a gun in every home and how there is peace there. Mr. Petallides argued for enacting the Bloomberg reforms of NYC to improve society by making small changes. Ms. Melendez asserted that the culture around guns varies to much across the US for sweeping laws to work. Mr. Spagnuolo argued for responsible laws to made as the reasons to have a gun have narrowed. Mr. Downes as friend and elder explained how we need to change the culture around guns, not laws. President Marsh responded by telling of how culture can be changed via the law using examples of civil rights gains in the past fifty years. Chancellor Iacono warned of how the state can take rights slowly little by little and how a gun was the last line of defense for his father to protect his family in Brooklyn. Chloe Krawczyk (SFS ’15) started a great nonmember speaking section by arguing for a simple registration database. Caleb Morrell (SFS ’16) told of how he saw the future by being in Sweden and how the future is very restrictive on freedom. Taylor Willis (SFS ’16) reminded the society of the gun show loophole and how normal people will pass background checks. Abby Grace (SFS ’16) brought statistics into the debate and showed how the data does not support stronger gun control measures. Mr. Askonas questioned why clips need 100 rounds. Mr. Dulik argued how regulation is the real issue, and how there is no link between more regulation and a better outcome. Mr. Gottlieb argued how the gun show loophole makes no sense and how we need more helpful regulations. Mr. Prindiville told how we need a middle row and that is the status quo. Mr. Miller used the example of the ease to get a carry license in Virginia to show how we need safety regulation. Vice President Arber asked if gun restrictions would actually change how people act. Mr. Bade said that legislation can change culture. Mr. Lim spoke of how we shouldn’t punish people just because others misuse a tool like a gun. Mr. Donovan closed the floor arguing how we owe it to the victims of gun accidents and crimes to send the right message about guns.
The Society returned to the keynoters to close the debate. Ms. Cleary started by saying that the affirmation is trying to take our guns. In response to the gun show loophole, she argued how criminals mostly buy guns illegally. She then brought up the example of Earl Jones, 92 years old, and how a gun was the only way he could stop a break in. Ms. Cleary finished by reinforcing the idea that guns protect people, and we can’t make guns go away. Mr. Stromeyer began by stating how statistics are inconclusive. He then continued by telling of how hundreds of people are shot every day. Mr. Stromeyer called for simple, commonsense laws. He concluded by reminding us of America’s ability to adapt and how we need to adapt our gun laws.
The Society voted 75-4-33 to affirm the resolution.