Brett Milam, Online Editor

Gun rights and gun control are sure to be factored into the debate between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama as the November election nears, especially in the wake of the Colorado theater, Wisconsin Sikh temple and most recent New York City shootings.

College Democrats President Laura Kretz said the shootings might have been preventable if there were stricter background checks for gun owners.

“These aren’t accidents,” Kretz said. “These are preventable. The issue is about enforcement.”

Kretz said she would like to see President Obama do more on this issue, if he is re-elected.

However, both candidates have shied away from making any demonstrative declarations on the issue.

In contrast, President of College Republicans Baylor Myers said gun control laws would restrict self-protection.

“As outlined in the second amendment of our Constitution, we have the right to bear arms and the College Republicans believe that right is a necessity for self-protection,” Myers said.

To College Republicans, gun laws are ineffective.

“Time and experience has shown that gun laws are obsolete – criminals will always have access, but our society must empower good citizens in their efforts for self-protection,” Myers said.

Communications Chair of College Democrats Eden Thompson said there should be gun control laws that focus on the gun purchaser.

“The focus should be on who guns are given to,” Thompson said. However, Kretz said she believes gun control is far from the most important issue in the election for college students.

“Jobs are the number one issue because the large majority of us will be looking for jobs right after graduating from Miami University,” Kretz said. “I would say to my fellow Miamians that if now is not the ‘right time’ to discuss this issue, then when?”

According to the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, over 51 percent of Ohio voters still regard economic considerations as the most important issue in the 2012 election.

Notwithstanding, the gun control debate is certainly relevant to the parents of incoming Miami University first years, according to Miami University Police Department (MUPD) Police Chief John McCandless.

At Miami University’s orientation, McCandless was asked by parents about the preparedness of the MUPD in the event of an active shooter on campus. According to McCandless, parents ask about active shooters in only one or two of the 14 or 15 orientation sessions each year.

McCandless said questions about active shooters become more popular after highly publicized shootings such as the Virginia Tech shooting.

“We’re as prepared as you can be in those situations,” McCandless said.

The MUPD Web site has a link under Campus Safety about what to do, as a student or member of the faculty or staff, in the event of an active shooter. That link can be found here: http://www.units.muohio.edu/psf/police/Campus_Safety/ActiveShooter.shtml

“If someone specifically asks about an active shooter then we tell them they can go [to the website],” McCandless said. “Minimally if you read that you begin to formulate ideas that you might use should that situation happen.”

McCandless also mentioned that his officers train every summer with area law enforcement such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Oxford Police Department (OPD) and have a mutual aid agreement with the police departments of the surrounding counties, which means they would assist the MUPD in such a scenario.

Miami University also has the Miami Emergency Text Messaging Service, which is used in the event of imminent danger to students, faculty and staff on all Miami University campuses.

For information on the service and how to sign up, go to: http://www.units.muohio.edu/psf/police/emergencytextmessaging/.

To date, Police Chief McCandless is not aware of any gun violence on Miami’s campus in the last year or in the past, since becoming Police Chief in June of 2004. If there are gun-related incidents, according to McCandless, they usually involve someone passing through campus with a gun in their vehicle and being stopped.

The process of acquiring a firearm for a new owner with a background check and going through a registered Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) usually takes upwards of an hour, according to Sean Crumley, President of the Pistol Club.

“Even though it is quick, the background check required to purchase a firearm is fairly extensive,” Crumley said.

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