A member of the National Rifle Association presented to University of Minnesota students Tuesday evening, providing information about the organization and giving students an opportunity to join.
Suzanne Anglewicz, a senior NRA grassroots field coordinator, presented to attendees. Anglewicz discussed the Second Amendment, collegiate programs through the NRA and misconceptions about the organization. The program, NRA University, was hosted by Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, a University student group with a focus on the environment and free market issues.
“Starting a discourse is really what CFACT is about,” said CFACT event coordinator Nick Majerus. “I think that even if people disagreed with the message here today, that it was a very thoughtful presentation. And it was just facts, it wasn’t polarizing and fighting.”
NRA University was founded in 2008 and sends NRA employees to campuses to discuss issues relevant to the organization.
Despite what others argue, the organization supports background checks and existing gun laws, Anglewicz said, but existing regulations are often not enforced by officials. This was the case in last week's Aurora, Illinois shooting where five people were killed, she added.
“The problem is, is that [background check] system is failing and our government — Republicans, Democrats, all of them — are completely complicit in doing absolutely nothing to make that system better,” Anglewicz said.
Along with providing statistics on gun deaths and responses to common views about the NRA, Anglewicz also argued that terms regularly used to describe guns, such as “assault weapon” and “high-capacity magazine,” are political terms to scare and dissuade the public from supporting gun ownership.
By using these terms, organizations are attempting to make it easier to work toward stronger gun control, Anglewicz said. But arguing for gun control won’t solve the problems related to guns, she said.
“We have so many laws on the books and we’re not enforcing them and I think that’s an important starting point for the NRA,” Anglewicz said. “Rather than creating new laws that will do nothing to keep anybody safe and only affect law-abiding citizens.”
Though students had the opportunity to join the organization by completing a form provided during the event, second-year University student Gideon Matthews doesn’t plan on joining.
“To own a gun, you don’t have to be a member of the NRA, so it’s not something that’s really necessary,” Matthews said.
While the event was an opportunity for the NRA to gain new members, it was also an opportunity for the organization to talk with students.
“College campuses, I don't care where you go, aren’t exactly the breeding ground for some more conservative thought, and especially not about the Second Amendment and the NRA,” Anglewicz said. “And we wanted a chance to talk to you face-to-face and answer questions to kind of tell you what we’re about.”