Texas Political Union

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

In the wake of recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, students respectfully debated the divisive issue of gun control in Parlin Hall on Tuesday night.

At the discussion hosted by Texas Political Union, students offered opinions from across the ideological spectrum.

“It still baffles me how I can go to Academy and buy a gun, and it takes me less time than it takes to get a credit card or buy a pet,” government sophomore Camilla Kampmann said. “That scares me.”

Kampmann, who grew up handling guns, said most firearm purchases are well-intentioned, but not all. 

“You can go to a gun show and have no kind of background check whatsoever,” Kampmann said. “Is that something we find troubling, or is that something we’re fine with?”

Many students said criminals are among those who should not be able to purchase guns, but some were concerned that barring people from purchasing guns would be infringing on their rights.  

“We need to be specific when we talk about what kind of criminals should be barred from buying guns,” government senior Morgan Peavy, who defended the Second Amendment throughout the debate, said. “Speeding is a crime, and it’s irresponsible, but we don’t take away people’s cars when they do it.”

While other students said this was too extreme of an example, Peavy said he was trying to make a point about the impracticality of possible gun control measures.

“How effective is any gun control going to be if anyone can still get ahold of a gun?” Peavy said. “Any restrictions on guns are only effective insofar as we can actually implement them.”

For government junior Alex Walhein, Peavy’s argument was not enough of a reason to not have any gun control at all.

“We don’t have to take away everybody’s guns, but we can get rid of bump stocks, automatic weapons and assault weapons that kill massive amounts of people,” Walhein said.

Classics senior Daniel Orr said he does not believe the constitution granted every citizen the right to have a gun.

“The availability of guns in the United States is tantamount to the government aiding domestic terrorism,” Orr said. “We have been granted the ability to use firearms to defend ourselves … but I’m ashamed to admit that I have a less visceral reaction each time a shooting occurs.”

Photo Credit: Megan Canik | Daily Texan Staff

Two LBJ School of Public Affairs professors debated about one of the 21st century’s most disputed foreign policy predicaments: relations between the United States and Russia. 

The Texas Political Union hosted a debate Tuesday where the professors focused on the allegations against the Kremlin of meddling in the 2016 presidential election as well as President Donald Trump’s current relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Government professor James Galbraith was assigned to support the stance that Trump is right in his dealings with Russia. 

Despite Russia’s formidable military power and influence in Syria and Crimea, fear of Russia due to its hacking abilities isn’t warranted, Galbraith said.

“State governments in the United States were spooked by Russian hacking of our electoral system, though no such hacking has occurred,” Galbraith said. “For more than six months now, Russia has served as a crutch for the American imagination.”

Galbraith said Trump would be correct if he believes that America can cooperate with Russia.

“Democracy works properly only when linked to reasonable standards of evidence and common sense,” Galbraith said in an email. “The United States as a democracy has many flaws, but fragile vulnerability to the siren songs of Russian internet trolls isn’t one of the more serious dangers.”

History professor Jeremi Suri said the debate was about the shift in policy toward Russia from former President Barack Obama to Trump, and he doesn’t foresee the U.S. being an ally with Russia, since it is a threat to democracy and capitalism. 

“Trump … overwhelmingly went out of his way to embrace Vladimir Putin,” Suri said. “Putin has built his regime … on making us an enemy. This regime is explicitly built on the repression of democracy.”

Suri came to a conclusion in opposition to Galbraith’s — Suri said Trump’s position on Russia is wrong because of hatred in the world.

“Our world today is filled with too much hate,” Suri said. “Russia is a propagator of that hate. Trump is actively not only staying silent, but encouraging this behavior … He is deathly wrong on Russia.”

Government freshman Erick Razo said this is an issue both politicians and students alike should be informed about.

“Everyone should be well-informed,” Razo said. “This is something that could potentially lead to warfare (and) could affect taxes by increasing military power. These are all issues that affect the everyday American, specifically students who are rising into a new voter population.”