Trojan Advocates for Political Progress hosted a forum on gun violence on Wednesday at Taper Hall.
The organization invited members from Unruh Associates, USC College Democrats, Trojans for Israel, Political Student Assembly, USC Students for Justice in Palestine and Young Americans for Freedom to speak about their stances on gun regulation.
“I wanted to keep up the dialogue after different situations, whether or not that is the Parkland shooting or other instances of police brutality,” TAPP President Alec Vandenberg said. “Gun violence is still prevalent, and we want to make sure we can shine the light on that and the first step to doing that is starting that dialogue and taking that dialogue and forming a consensus and acting upon it.”
The forum consisted of a panel of student representatives from each of the host clubs and was moderated by professor Erroll Southers. Southers said that it is important to address gun control, especially on school campuses.
“This is a conversation that we always say we’re going to have and we never have,” Southers said. “I think that schools are particularly concerned about when talking about gun violence these days, so I think that it’s the absolutely perfect place to have this discussion.”
Before working at USC, Southers worked as an FBI Special Agent, served as former President Barack Obama’s first nominee for the Transportation Security Administration Assistant Secretary and also served as Assistant Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department under Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Given the heightened relevance of gun violence in the wake of this year’s mass shootings, Southers proposed several questions to stimulate discussion.
Topics included students’ opinions on arming teachers, whether handguns or firearms in general were a concerns, if the Second Amendment should be amended or removed and how to make gun use safer.
“A lot of people notice that many of these conversations around gun violence, many of the arguments and debates, when it’s specifically about gun violence, never include the rampant gun violence by the police forces, by white supremacists,” Kameron Hurt, a junior majoring in international relations and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, said. “To certain people, gun violence only matters when it’s against a certain community and if it’s done in a mass way where a lot of people are killed in one instant, but if it’s a slow and grueling ‘one murder today, another murder tomorrow’ then suddenly loses that importance.”
Vandenberg said this conversation was made more dynamic by Southers’ willingness to discuss his own experiences. Southers said the event provided some consensus on certain issues such as background checks as prerequisites for gun ownership as well as whether it is time to re-evaluate certain laws.
“I want students to know that we can have this discussion,” Southers said. “There are solutions and that the people sitting in the room today, they’re a part of that solution. It’s going to be laws and it’s going to be people that make sure those laws are suggested and acted, followed through … We are the solution. If our elected officials aren’t going to move the needle, then we need to move the needle.”