Iowa State gun owners discuss gun control in US

Danielle Gehr

Six days into the new year, five people were shot dead at a Fort Lauderdale airport.

Every time a mass shooting occurs on American soil, solutions range from a complete ban on gun ownership to having stricter background checks. Iowa State gun owners offered their perspective.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about how dangerous firearms are,” said Hugh Schuster, president of the Rifle and Pistol Club and senior in aerospace engineering. “They are a deadly tool, but they are only as dangerous as the person behind them.”

Schuster is like many gun enthusiasts and users. He grew up surrounded by them.

By age 6, he was taught to shoot a gun. By age 12, he was hunting. By age 18, he was competing.

Using guns is a family tradition that likely led to the strong beliefs he has today. Schuster doesn’t want there to be gun restrictions and even believes that some reforms could be looser.

Instead, he believes background checks are the answer and that the country needs better resources for people with mental illness in the United States.

“We need to fix the mental health care so that firearms don’t fall into someone’s hands who’s going to use them to hurt themselves or other people,” Schuster said.

This is an opinion that can be seen on both sides of the political spectrum. President Barack Obama called for reforms of this nature about a year ago, according to CNN.

Activists and those who struggle with mental illness often debate blaming the mentally ill for gun violence.

The New York Times editorial board published an opinion piece showing the perspective of those who find these descriptions of gun violence offensive.

The argument is that when saying that mental health is leading to gun violence, it makes some feel that it is also saying that people with mental illness are dangerous in any way.

Another student who shares similar opinions and a similar background with Schuster is Austen Giles, a gun owner and sophomore in public relations at Iowa State.

“You cannot attack a mental illness, you can only help but to prevent by doing mental evaluations,” Giles said.

Giles grew up in what he describes as a conservative household. He had a family of gun owners and started using guns at a young age.


One country that is held as an example when debating gun enthusiasts on gun control is Australia. After a mass shooting in 1996 that led to the deaths of 35 people, the citizens called for stricter reforms, leading to the buyback of 660,000 weapons, according to NBC.

There hasn’t been another mass shooting in 20 years. When asked why this wouldn’t work in the United States, Giles said that it has to do with the United States sharing borders.

“All of their trading and traffic is monitored,” Giles said. “So then if you can block out any sales or manufacturing of firearms because they can monitor everything, then you can completely guarantee that there’s going to be no incoming or no firearms coming into that nation.”

Giles also brought up that there is another reaction to mass shootings completely opposite to those that call for gun reforms and restrictions.

“Every time there’s a shooting, every time there seems to be some kind of active terrorism with a firearm, there is an increase in market and production of guns,” Giles said. 

The correlation that Giles speaks of was the subject matter of an NBC News story after the shooting in Orlando, Florida, last summer. In the article, NBC News gave two reasons for the spike.

People get scared and want firearms for protection, and gun enthusiasts are nervous that a mass shooting incident will lead to more reforms restricting gun sales.  

For gun enthusiasts such as Schuster and Giles, the reason doesn’t matter so much as making sure the restrictions don’t get any tighter.