Duke Students Hear, Discuss Both Sides of Gun Policy
Events sponsored by Duke Center and N.C. Leadership Forum look to help students build bridges
Pearce Godwin, MPP ’08 and founder of the Listen First Project and National Week of Conversation, spoke at the program and told students to spend more time “listening to understand” and build relationships to address toxic polarization in America.
It was the second session on gun violence co-sponsored by the groups. Earlier this month, students shared personal stories that had shaped them and brainstormed concerns related to gun violence and the values they brought to debates over gun policy.
The Center for Firearms Law and NC Leadership Forum recruited students from a variety of backgrounds and political views to participate, enabling a broad discussion of different approaches to gun violence. After hearing about the state’s legal history and from community leaders, students talked through the benefits and downsides of four current policy proposals, including red-flag laws and the recent repeal of a state law that required a permit from the local sheriff before purchasing a pistol.
“Gun violence is a prevalent part of the American experience, especially for minoritized populations and young people,” Chandlee Jackson, MPP ’23 who attended both meetings. “It is irresponsible to not investigate this subject with greater detail. I appreciated the policy discussions we had and learned meaningful history about how North Carolina firearms law was imposed to limit access to weapons for African Americans since the mid-19th century.”
“We thought the student leader program was important because gun violence and gun policy impact so many, but discussions are often dominated by a small group of partisan voices,” said Darrell Miller, faculty co-director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law. “It was refreshing to see Duke students from a variety of backgrounds engage deeply with these issues from both historical and modern perspectives.”
The program was part of the National Week of Conversation, which encourages Americans to talk with others who hold different perspectives to solve important problems.