January 17, 2013

President Skorton Joins University Presidents in Call for Gun Control

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In the wake of Newtown, Conn. school shootings, University President David Skorton –– along with nine other university presidents –– has urged President Barack Obama and members of Congress to take legislative action against gun violence.

In a statement issued on Jan. 2, the presidents –– who are members of the executive committee of the Association of American Universities, a coalition consisting of 62 American and Canadian research universities –– condemned the U.S.’ “culture of violence, particularly perpetrated by guns.”

“The Newtown slaughter is the latest in a series of mass murders, but the nature and number of its victims have caused Americans to devote special attention to this tragic event and its causes,” the statement said. “Our schools and campuses have unfortunately become centers of national mourning, from Columbine to Virginia Tech, and now Newtown.”

In the statement, Skorton and his colleagues encouraged political leaders to combat gun violence through arms control, moderation of messages of brutality in the media and improved treatment of mental illnesses.

“We know that there are no simple ‘solutions’ to violence in America, but we do believe that all three areas require focused and serious consideration by the president and the Congress,” the statement said.

The statement particularly emphasized the need to minimize violent images in the media.

“Here too the issue is complex because of the nation’s fundamental commitment to freedom of speech, but moral suasion seems clearly required if we are to stem this tide of the media’s addiction to violence,” the statement said.The presidents decried the difficulty of keeping guns off college campuses.“Many high-powered weapons that have no legitimate use for hunting, marksmanship or self-defense continue to be bought and sold, as are the high-volume magazines often used by mass murderers,” the statement said. “Increasingly, universities find themselves prevented by state laws from keeping guns off campus and out of the hands of students.”Cornell’s policy on guns –– which states that “a campus is no place for a weapon” –– is supported by New York State law, which prohibits possession of a firearm on school or university grounds.Still, Skorton and the other presidents underscored the need to prevent gun violence at universities across the nation. “As leaders of public and private universities, we strongly urge the president and the Congress to seek effective means of mitigating this scourge of American life,” the statement said.

Original Author: Kerry Close