The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Through the years, America has fostered a debate between those for gun-rights – supporting the Second Amendment – and those who favor changing the Constitution, feeling that the right to own firearms makes Americans less safe.
There are states in the US, like New York and Washington, D.C., where it is illegal to have a hand gun, said Evan Fowler, president of Western’s American Campaign Transperency. There are laws that restrict where and when fire arms can be held by individuals, but all in all, guns are easily obtain, distributed and used in the United States.
“[When Obama got elected], a lot believed that the Federal government was going to turn Communist and take all of [their] guns away so they couldn’t rebel if the [government] started doing horrible things, and that [hasn’t] happened,” Fowler said.
Gun regulation in this country is a problem because there is a mass amount of weapons. There are three times as many guns as there are people, Fowler said. There are also hundreds of millions of guns that are not registered meaning that there is no way of tracking them or knowing where they are; this issue contributes to the amount of hand guns that criminals have access to, Fowler said.
“The pragmatic, realistic way of looking at things is ‘well, since we have so many guns everywhere, it’s kind of ridiculous to prevent law-abiding citizens from legally purchasing guns,” Fowler said.
But in regards to the changing of the Second Amendment, Democrats and Republicans – more specifically, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – are more or less opposite.
President Obama and the Democrats feel that assault rifles are a little too much and should be regulated differently, Fowler said. With that said, the president does not advocate for more gun control or plan on increasing gun control, said Jered McCardle, associate director for the Associated Students’ Representation and Engagement Programs. Such ideals are more prevalent amongst liberals and democrats, though.
“[President Obama] says that regulation that is already in place should be more enforced, but more regulations are not necessary.”
The Republican Party, heavily supported by the National Rifle Association, and Romney support the Second Amendment and do not plan on changing it.
“[They feel that] it’s our God-given right to have an assault rifle, and a bazooka, too,” Fowler said. “It’s the right to bear arms, it’s in the Constitution.”
“Education is a lot like health care in this country,” Fowler explained. “If you can afford it, we have the best education in the world, bar none; there’s not a country that comes near us in education, if you can afford it.”
For the most part, education is put under the control of individual states, said McCardle. Every two years, projections are made to determine how much money will be made by the state, and schools are not allowed to spend more than they are allowed, based on those projections. Only a handful of states allow such, which is called deficit spending, McCardle said.
Because of the current recession, taxes coming into states have decreased and because Washington is not one of the states that allow deficit spending, money has to be taken out of other services like education. With that said, 94 percent of K-12’s money is protected by the state, while higher education’s money is not, McCardle said.
“Although education is seen as a constitutional obligation of the state, higher education is not included,” McCardle explained.
While most of the country’s K-12 education system is disproportionate, higher education is more consistent in its quality, Fowler said. But while private universities continue to be successful, public universities are getting torn apart for the past 10 to 20 years. Specifically, Western used to receive between 60 and 70 percent of its funding from the state, but now the university only receives between 30 and 40 percent. As a result, tuition goes up, students have to pay more and the students that can pay will be in better positions, Fowler said.
In regards to the K-12 education system and the quality of education children are receiving, there is an extreme difference between public schools and privates schools, Fowler said. There is a huge gap between schools in inner-city, low-income areas and schools in suburban, middle-to-upper class areas.
What contributes to these low-performing schools is the resources available to them. A seasoned teacher, for example, has a choice of where they wants to teach. If the teacher was to choose between a school with an ample amount of violence in its surrounding neighborhoods and a school with access to healthy living environment, they will most likely choose the latter. On the flip side, all of the young, inexperienced teachers do not have much of a choice, and are forced into a situation they may not want to be in, and that translates into their teaching, Fowler said.
Both presidential candidates proclaim they are for education reform, but they approach the situation in different ways, McCardle said. President Obama plans to support students in higher education programs with various types of financial aid, like more grants and work study opportunities being made available. He believes in a direct investment in education, McCardle said. With Romney, he wants to provide tax breaks for companies and encourage more private enterprise, which will in turn create more benefits for private universities, Fowler said. In regards to the rising costs of higher education, Romney tends to focus more on the importance of getting a job after graduating; more specifically, his plans for job creation will benefit higher education.
Ever since the financial crisis, immigration has become less of a prevalent issue on the political stage, Fowler said.
“During the Bush Administration, when our economy was roaring and we were a really interesting place to be, [immigration] was a huge issue for a lot of people,’ Fowler said.
The financial crisis and the drug war in Mexico are two reasons why immigration has not been discussed during this election season as much as it previously has been. With the recession, the US looked a lot less lucrative and a lot less like an enjoyable destination for people to move to, Fowler explained. The drug war in Mexico, which has over 60,000 causalities, has been going on for almost six years, and it continues to make the US, Mexico border extremely dangerous, Fowler said.
There are three primary sides to the issue of immigration. The conservative ideal is that if someone is in the US illegally, they should be kicked out, no question. On the other hand, the liberal perspective holds mixed opinions, Fowler said. There is the one group who operates with a “we’re all people, let’s hold hands” mentality, insinuating no pressing issue with undocumented immigrants. The other groups feel that individuals should not be here if they came here illegally, but if their children were born here, there is nothing we can do about it, Fowler said.
President Obama supports the DREAM Act, enacted on June 15, 2012, is an act designed to give children born in the US to undocumented immigrants a chance at an education. In contrast, no other president in US history has deported as many people as President Obama, Fowler said. The Obama administration has been very tough on immigration.
The issue is not just a red-and-blue, liberal versus conservative issue, Fowler said. Immigration was not covered in the 2012 presidential debates because the liberal feelings on the situation go directly with the interests of conservatives. This being an election year is not the time to show how the Democratic Party and the Republican Party relate, Fowler said.