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Oglethorpe president speaks out on gun control
by LaTria Garnigan
December 21, 2012 05:09 PM | 3035 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After sending out an open letter regarding gun safety legislation, Oglethorpe President Dr. Lawrence M. Schall and Agnes Scott President Dr. Elizabeth Kiss received hundreds of signatures in just a matter of days from other college and university presidents around the country.

In part of the letter, Schall stated “on the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored college and universities. For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams. That issue is gun safety.”

When the letter was first sent out, Schall and Kiss garnered more than 160 signatures of support. By the end of the day last Thursday, that number had grown to more than 300.

On the amount of support received from his colleagues, Schall said he was not expecting such an immediate response as he received.

“I didn’t expect the rapidity of the response,” he said. “Basically in 24 hours it happened and people responded through the night.”

He explained he initially sent out the letter through a small group and tried to get reaction and it became a revolving process from there.

“I’m important … it’s a pretty rare thing when [college] president’s speak out on an issue like this,” said Schall on the value of the taking this public stance. “College presidents are pretty independent thinking people so to get 300 or more to sign onto a single document, I think, says something about this issue.”

Further in the letter, Schall pointed to a few points of interest that elected representatives should act collectively on behalf of children:

 ensuring the safety of communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on campuses and in classrooms

 ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check

 reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines

 requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects.

When students return to campus after the break, Schall said they plan on holding a forum about this issue with Agnes Scott and other surrounding schools.

Other Georgia presidents who signed on to the open letter are: David Seyle, Andrew College; Ed Schrader, Brenau University; Carlton E. Brown, Clark Atlanta University; Steve Hayner, Columbia Theological Seminary; Robert Franklin, Morehouse College; James Mellichamp, Piedmont College; Thomas Isherwood, Reinhardt University and Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College.

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