Chicano/Chicana Studies Professor Ralph Armbruster and Graduate Student Association vice president of committees and planning Timothy Irvine hosted an open meeting Thursday evening in front of the Student Resource Building (SRB) to discuss gun-control activism at UCSB.
Armbruster and Irvine organized a candlelight vigil last week honoring the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting. They planned the most recent meeting as a follow-up for those interested in joining a UCSB-based movement for stricter gun control. The group will meet again next week to discuss gun reform at the local level.
Armbruster said while he believes people need time to “express their emotions” following events such as the Umpqua Community College shooting, the UCSB community needs to come together to discuss what action should be taken to advocate for stricter gun control.
“I think you do need time to process, mourn and cry,” Armbruster said. “On the other hand, after you do that, there needs to be something else.”
Armbruster said the pro-gun lobby has prevented gun control reform laws through “distorting” the word “freedom” and the American ideal surrounding it.
“That buzzword, the discourse of just that one word, I think is so captivating, that they did a really fine job in trying to convince people that somehow, someway gun control equals lack of freedom, lack of liberty,” Armbruster said.
Armbruster also said while some argue guns provide owners with protection and safety, he believes the prevalence of guns in the United States causes “insecurity.”
“You never know who might be walking around here and might open up on you,” Armbruster said. “I’d rather be in a situation where I knew UCSB is gun free.”
First-year psychology major Jackie Rodriguez said it “frustrates” her that people in supposedly safe places, like schools, can be in danger of mass shootings.
“Like the kids from Sandy Hook, they didn’t get to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they didn’t get to learn how to ride a bike, they didn’t get to do stuff like that,” Rodriquez said. “If I can do anything to fix that for my own children when I get older then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Fourth-year sociology and history double major Katie Jacobson said she was pleased with the turnout at the meeting.
“It’s nice that other people came, it wasn’t as large as the vigil but there was people who still showed up,” Jacobson said. “It was nice to hear from people that they were also sharing the same ideas that we need to do something.”
Irvine said he is glad undergraduates came to the meeting to get involved because he enjoys working with them and serving as a “resource.”
“They are about as bitter and jaded as I am already, but they just care,” Irvine said. “They are so passionate and I really love being around them and I love providing my knowledge.”
First-year economics major Willey Campbell said he attended last week’s vigil to “pay his respects” to the victims of the shooting, but the event inspired him to engage in the gun-control movement.
“Just seeing the impact that it had on everyone here made me want to come back and talk about how there should be more done about gun reforms,” Campbell said. “Having people that are very passionate about something like this that want to go out and make a change was something that was really motivating to me and something I wanted to be a part of especially as a first-year coming in.”
The next meeting will be held this Thursday at 8 p.m. outside the SRB.