By SEHAR JEMAL
On Thursday, Sept 20, a small group of UMW students came together to rally against the issue of gun violence in the United States. This rally, led by sophomore communications and digital studies major, Andrew Schneidawind, was what he believed to be UMW students’ first time formally speaking out against gun violence as an organized group.
The purpose of this event was to bring attention to this problem, which Schneidawind does not believe is talked about enough.
“There isn’t really enough of a conversation against gun violence here [at UMW], which is why I’m organizing this event,” said Schneidawind.
Although, as a former firearms club member, he respects the debate surrounding the second amendment on campus, Schneidawind pointed out that there is no ongoing conversation focused on the violence surrounding it.
“I want to bring up a conversation that the second amendment and its supporters aren’t addressing,” said Schneidawind. He later continued to say, “the goal of this event is not to protest firearms, but to start a conversation.”
By spreading awareness on campus, Schneidawind hopes to reach out and call for responsible gun ownership. He opened his speech by explaining that “everyday 96 people die by guns, either by accident or on purpose, and it does not make the news.”
After Schneidawind introduced the issue, he opened the floor for UMW students and local activists to speak on their experiences.
Erin Shaw, senior psych major and president of UMW PRISM, spoke on how her club is 100% behind the issue.
“The LGBT community is a specific target for gun related crimes, and the transgender community is targeted by guns every day,” said Shaw. “This is not just about politics, it’s life and death.”
Local Fredericksburg activists came to showcase their support as well. Charles Koch, retired Fredericksburg resident and full time activist, came to speak on his beliefs on the importance of common sense gun laws and what can be done to implement them.
Koch likened the regulation of firearm licenses to driver’s licenses.
“We require anyone who gets a driver’s license to do it safely,” said Koch. “If they make a mistake or have an accident there are consequences for that. Why don’t we have the same regulations over guns?”
Schneidawind agreed with Koch’s idea on gun regulations.
“Laws and regulations do not affect responsible gun owners nor do they take away the right given in the second amendment, they just put sensible limitations on this right in order to help preserve lives,” said Schneidawind.
Koch and Schneidawind also emphasized the importance of UMW students to vote in the upcoming election.
“Being an activist and holding rallies can only do so much; you have to vote for whoever you believe in to make real change in the government because nothing is going to get done until we get representatives in office that are going to demand more and put rules in place,” said Koch.
Schneidawind agreed, reiterating that “the most important thing I can tell you to do is vote.”
From this event, Schneidawind’s goal is to “get a conversation started up that does not have a huge presence here and to hopefully create another movement.”