Debate at Cooley: Is gun control effective?


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As authorities in San Bernardino, California dealt with the aftermath of a shooting that left 14 dead and more than a dozen wounded, the debate over gun control was the focus of a forum at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in Grand Rapids.

The debate had been scheduled for some time, but Wednesday’s mass shooting in California made the conversation particularly poignant.

“This happens with striking regularly, an unfortunate regularity and it always happens with lots of guns,” Cooley Professor David Tarrien said.

But should we use guns or regulations to fight the problem? That was the debate between Tarrrien, who has a  background in education, and Professor Steve Dulan, who has a military background.

“If you restrict guns in any given area, all you’re doing is taking the right of self-defense away from law-abiding citizens,” Dulan argued.

“Part of the reason the gun regulation itself doesn’t have a chance to work is because laws have been scattered,” Tarrien replied. “They’ve been weak and they have been underfunded.”

Among the topics discussed were gun-free zones. Many of the mass shootings — including the one in San Bernardino — happened in gun-free zones.

“It turns out that putting a sign up in front of a place saying no guns doesn’t mean that there will actually be no guns,” Dulan said.

He thinks gun-free zones create easy targets. Tarrien disagreed, citing a message from man who opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.

“He didn’t say anywhere in there he was going there because there was an absence of guns. He was going there because there was an abundance of people,” he said.

“Guns exist. You are surrounded by guns all the time whether you realize it or not,” Dulan said.

How to make sure those guns are used for defense and not attacks remains the question, and it’s not a debate that’s going to be settled any time soon.

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