Sean Kirkendall Speaks to Students About Preventing Gun Violence

Sean Kirkendall, the senior policy and public safety manager at the Brady Center and Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, lectured in Professor Joe Vince’s Guns and Crime class on Tuesday, March 10. He discussed the Brady approach to handling gun violence through policy, legal action, education and media.

“This issue requires a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to adequately address gun violence,” stated Kirkendall. “There must be focus put on legislation, public health and safety, legal action, regulation, law enforcement, and lastly public and officer safety.”

A gun owner himself, Kirkendall emphasizes the campaign’s unique public interest program to reform the gun industry, which sets the Brady Center apart from other national organizations. The campaign focuses on forming relationships with gun owners and gun dealers and studying how they determine who to sell arms to. Expanded background checks seem to be the best route to take in order to eliminate gun violence.

“It was interesting to learn that Mr. Kirkendall grew up in a family of gun owners,” stated senior criminal justice major, Bridgette Nitza-Buwala. “I think it is a common misperception that those working hard for prevention of gun violence do not own or support ownership of guns.”

Professor Joe Vince, Director of the Criminal Justice program, has made a point to bring in prominent lecturers to speak to his students on a regular basis. He believes that these lecturers will bring a new perspective to students, and help them learn what to expect while they are in the field.

“In order for students to learn about the criminal justice system, real world experience must be presented in the classroom,” Vince stated. “It is all about students gaining skills and becoming critical thinkers, which are what employers are looking for.”

Vince’s Guns and Crime class is made up mostly of students within the criminal justice major. There are also several seniors in the class who have already had some experience in the field.

“I’m currently doing an internship for National Gun Victims Action Council, and I research about the loopholes in the submission of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” stated Maggie Rosenbaum, senior. “As Mr. Kirkendall mentioned, the Brady Campaign is pushing for the expansion of background checks for firearm purchasers; I’ve found in my research that the collaboration of mental health data across agencies is crucial in this effort, in order to provide comprehensive background checks for firearm buyers.”

Vince hopes to bring in more lecturers to speak to his classes, since each experience helps both the students and the speaker gain different perspectives on the issues that are studied in class. He will be working towards bringing in a speaker from the National Rifle Association and perhaps others from the industry to speak on similar topics as Kirkendall.

“It is a huge issue, and I want students to understand that they have to get the facts and get engaged,” stated Kirkendall. “I want them to be positive and encouraged, since many young people are scared of the criminal justice system.”

Angela Smith

Community Editor of The Mountain Echo

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