Gun issue part of larger cultural picture

Jenn Hanson

The United States ranks as the most heavily armed nation in the world, with 90 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans, according to the 2007 Small Arms Survey.

The study also found that, although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population, its citizens own almost half of the nonmilitary firearms on Earth.

Americans who own guns are protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which assures “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Ryan Kuhn, senior in aerospace engineering and president of the ISU Rifle and Pistol Club, said he does not see America’s high gun numbers as a threat.

“We have the right to bear arms, and if someone wants to have 100 firearms, they have that right,” Kuhn said.

But Kuhn, who started shooting when he joined the Army three years ago, said he worries about his rights as a gun owner.

He said .50-caliber rifles are being outlawed in California, a “step in the door for banning guns nationwide.”

Such a ban seems distant, but Kuhn said it has come up in the gun industry in the past few years.

“The more I get into firearms, and the more I learn, the more I get concerned,” he said.

Other students were not as supportive of the figures released by survey.

“Guns are such a weird issue for me. I don’t feel good about it, and I don’t know why we need some many guns,” said Eleanor Kahn, senior in architecture. “I don’t want to seem idealistic, but if nobody had guns, then nobody would need them.”

On Sept. 18, the Iowa Board of Regents delayed the decision to arm the regent universities’ campus police forces. The board did, however, vote 7-1 to draft a comprehensive arming plan, which it will adopt or reject at its next meeting on Oct. 30 and 31 in Iowa City.

The one dissenting vote was given by Rose Vasquez, board member since 2004.

Iowa campuses are “distinctive to me from other campuses in that they don’t have weapons and they don’t have to have weapons,” Vasquez said.

She said Iowa has a perception of safety that is powerful for people to have and said we must continue to nurture it.