On Monday, members of the UVa and Charlottesville communities joined in Maury Hall for “Gun Sense: Discussion and Action on Gun Violence.” During the event, students and guest speakers discussed their personal experiences with gun violence and brainstormed how everyone can impact current gun legislation. The Power, Violence, and Inequality Collective, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the Nursing School sponsored the forum.
WUVA News attended the seminar, which was led by several panelists who noted the importance of uniting to discuss gun violence and mobilizing for action. Although the recent Parkland shooting may have sparked the event, gun control “impacts people far beyond mass shootings we hear about,” one professor explained.
The event featured clips from the film “Under the Gun,” followed by a panel of five speakers. The first speaker, Keara Price, a second year at UVa in the College of Arts & Sciences, grew up in Chicago, and now lives about an hour south of Richmond. Price touched on the issue of gun violence in low-income neighborhoods and the impact it had on her life and those around her.
“There’s the belief that violence is the best and only way to survive,” Price stated. “I was raised simply to survive, not as a child.”
Price also mentioned how the possession of firearms starts from the suppliers, not dealers within the neighborhoods.
Another speaker, a senior at Charlottesville High School, highlighted the presence of gun violence in high schools, and what teenagers specifically can do to help the cause. The Charlottesville local expressed her belief that the presence of armed officials creates a negative atmosphere.
“Schools are militarized. We need to shift the focus to what teenagers can do…to change the status quo.”
Katherine Young, a forensic scientist specializing in intimate partner violence at the Nursing School, was another notable speaker. Young took a public health perspective on the subject, and provided attendees with general statistics on gun violence that she felt were of importance.
“82% of firearm attacks in world occur in the U.S., and black men are 13 times more likely to be victims,” Young cited.
The scientist went on to speak about the effects of firearm injuries and how they remove citizens from the workforce, affect their families, and create vicious cycles of poverty.
“[They] shape the daily lives of more than just the victims.”
The last speaker was Sally Hudson, an assistant professor in the Public Policy and Economics departments at UVa. Hudson explained how the audience can take action to promote gun control by outlining three big milestones that citizens can help attain over the next 6, 12, and 18 months.
Before the midterm congressional elections for example, people can register voters and join grassroots organizations that support gun control. In the next year, Hudson recommended one lobby each of their representatives individually because, “no major current gun bills have been passed because of disproportionally large representation from Republicans.” In the next year and a half, Hudson advised attendees to vote to potentially flip the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates for the legislative success of gun control policy. These steps she underscored, demonstrate “what it takes to put policy in action.”
For more information about gun violence at UVa, click here.