“Concealed Guns On Campus”

Colorado students exhibit nation’s divide on guns

Boulder, Colo. — The past history of school related shooters in Colorado has become an unfortunate reminder of the innocent lives firearms have taken. However, Colorado has been a state in debate over gun control laws with three new bills entering the 2016 Colorado legislature. The University of Colorado Boulder has mirrored the same divide over the nation’s gun control laws. Residents of Boulder county including Colorado students can register with the Boulder Sheriff’s department and obtain a concealed carry permit for around 150-200$ after a background check and a certificate showcasing completion of an official training course.

Students at the university are legally allowed to carry a firearm into their classroom as long as they have a permit. Lauren Moscarello, a senior at CU Boulder, explained her encounter with students with guns in class. Early October, not long after the police shot and killed a man wielding a machete, there was a false report of an “active harmer” near the University Memorial Center, prompting an evacuation through the universities text alert messaging which alerts most of the 50,000 students and faculty who signed up. Moscarello was in a full lecture hall when the alert went out, one student in the class stood up and asked “Who is packing?” three other students replied they were armed as well. Moscarello said, “it scares the s— out of me, that people can just have guns, I think that is just one of my biggest fears that anyone can have a gun and you have no idea.”

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in a statistic on Firearm deaths in Colorado from 2005 through 2012, “4,431 people died in Colorado as a result of firearms. For all ages, firearm suicides outnumbered firearm homicides by nearly four to one.”  In the case of  homicide deaths by firearm, from 2005 to 2012 there was an average of 108 homicide deaths a year in Colorado. Moreover, homicide deaths in Colorado with available data surrounding the death, the largest factor was the result of an argument. Moscarello held similar views when she added, “[guns] escalate any situation, we could just be fighting, and say you had a gun,  you could pull a gun on me.”

Mary Vekasy, a patrol sergeant for the University of Colorado Police Department, said “CUPD support everyone’s second amendment rights, we would encourage people with [concealed carry weapons] to continue to train, get out to the range, put up some targets, fire a few rounds, and stay proficient with your handgun if you carry it.” When dealing with the possibility of an active shooter on campus, the department is trained to respond to any potential threat on campus, said Vekasy. “I never want to draw my gun in my line of duty, that is not something I look forward to, I don’t ever want to have to pull the trigger, but I want to be on equal footing if someone does bring a gun to the fight I appreciate having that for my own defense,” Vekasy said.

Concealed guns on a college campus like Colorado are still a hot seat for debate, given Colorado’s past with mass shootings and with the shooting that happened in Oregon. Firearms on campus have stayed deadlocked between guns lead to more violence, and guns are a natural right as a citizen to protect ourselves from danger.

Update – 23 April 2017 – Another unpublished article I did on the concealed carry laws in CU Boulder last year. The article spoke a lot on the issue and how divided people are still on gun control especially today.


2016 U.S. Election: Q&A With Michaele Ferguson, Feminist Political Scientist

I’m posting this unpublished Q&A session I had with Michaele Ferguson mainly because I thought it was interesting, but I hope it could shed some light on the future.

The 2016 U.S. Elections nearing, and understanding this conflicting election has perplexed political scientist and thrown their theories for a ride. Michaela Ferguson, serves as an associate professor in American Politics, and faculty associate in the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

She is currently researching theories in defining neoliberalism and how neoliberal feminism affects contemporary society, and is in the early stages of curating a collection of political writings of Tibetan Buddhist, Chögyum Trungpa.

Ferguson’s expertise on American political knowledge led us to explore the current trends and controversy following the upcoming election in November.

Will heath play a major factor in this election? (Trump is 70, Clinton is 68 )

I certainly think the incident that happened with Hillary Clinton puts that front in center. The Trump campaign had already been speculations about her health prior to that. There is a huge phenomenon of women working while they are sick. A lot of the women I know were relating to this, talking about this as a general phenomenon that women tend to work through illness that men would be much more likely to take time off for. In that sense, the health crisis with Hillary might actually mobilize voters to support her, and female voters in particular might recognize a little bit of themselves.

Will age be a factor on how the candidates deal with today’s issues?

One of the interesting things about both of the candidates is that during their national conventions; they brought out their children. Partly because they both realize that they need to be demonstrating very clearly that they can connect to younger voters. The most recent polling data that I saw, is actually showing that a disproportionately high number of younger voters are going for the third-party candidates when they are offered as options in a poll, either the Libertarian or the Green candidate.

From that perspective I think that both of the candidates have an age problem. If younger voters who are interested in voting are planning to vote for the Greens or the Libertarians, that is a vote they could have gotten. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders was the oldest out of the three of them, and he did very well among younger voters. He shows that you can be in an older generation, and have a youth appeal.

Critics argue that technology in this election has been skewing people’s political vantage?

I think we should be concerned about any attempts by social media organizations like Facebook to direct content that we are going to see or we are most likely to see. But I think there is also the underlying question on how much diversity are people getting in their media? How much critical thinking are people engaging in ? I think that Hillary Clinton had a valid point in the faux-pas she made at her fundraiser, when she was talking about Trump amplifying the voices of organizations that had only had a few followers on Twitter. But when he retweets it, those tweets are now being amplified. People who are now following him, might not have the context for understanding who is this person that he is retweeting

Is there one issue that could turn the greatest number of women into single-issue voters?

If there is a blatant episode of sexism against  Hillary in the campaign from here, forward. I think if Trump started talking about women the way he has talked about women in the past, in the more egregious statements that the Clinton campaign has brought out. If one of the future debates a moderator was clearly sexist, or all the debates follow that same pattern that Matt Lauer established. Then I think you start to see the kind of behavior that gets women to get behind Clinton.

In your research you study the political writings of a Tibetan Buddhist, is there any lessons from that you’ve been able to apply towards American politics?

It is really about being able to still be present no matter what is happening. In politics, especially with young people or people who haven’t been involved with politics, suddenly get involved. When they lose they get demoralized, and they want to give up. I can see this with some of my students who were really passionately behind Bernie. He loses the nomination while, ‘Hillary is corrupt, I can’t possibly vote for her, the whole system is rigged, I’m just going to stay out.’ – that is the response to losing. I think there is a characteristic that we have to cultivate in a democracy, that is related to having the capacity to lose. About accepting that, but not having that acceptance be simply ‘people win and lost in politics, so there is no reason to get involved in it’ but rather accepting, I lost that time, but I care about the fight so I’m going to get back in it, I’m not going to let that loss harden me or turn me away from politics.

Whoever wins this election do you think it’s going to be a landmark/historical decision?

I think it is historical no matter who wins. Either, we have the first female president, we ever had which is historical for that reason alone, or we have somebody who is known from the business and entertainment world. But has had absolutely no political experience before. The way that Trump has completely booked all the expectations political scientist had, the pundits had, the party leadership had. It is already historical – both of them. For that reason alone, I hope you don’t sit it out, and I hope your peers don’t sit it out because when your grandkids asked you what you did in that election. You don’t want to say, ‘I was the cynical guy, and there was no reason to vote for either of them’ – you want to be able to say you took a stand.

UPDATE: Sun. April 23, 2017 – I just wanted to add in a more recent talk with another political scientist Ryan Dawkins. Donald Trump appealed to many U.S. voter because of Clinton’s campaign strategy and ads trying to show that Trump wasn’t normal in the political spectrum and was an outsider. He said, that resonated to many U.S. voters because they had past qualms with how Democratic administrations have acted in past years.

Political experts speak on the “New Nuclear Arms Race”


Boulder, Colorado —  On Tuesday, October 11th 2016, the Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center held a talk at CU Boulder. The talk focused on U.S. NATO conflicts with Russian and the threat of a new nuclear war hosted by Carolyn Bninski.

Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action, and Ron Forthofer, a former professor of Biostatistics at the University of Texas and member of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, were the two experts presenting the current problems facing a U.S. nuclear conflict with Russia. Particularly, the U.S. tensions in Syria and Ukraine are evidence of an expanding war, and the NATO expansion into Russia’s borders are problematic.

Each speaker was given 25 minutes to present their views. Ron Forthofer started the discussion outlining a timeline of U.S. foreign affairs from the CIA backed military coups in Iran in 1950’s to March 2014, when Russia took part in the annexation of Crimea. Forthofer even discussed the current Syrian War and conflict with Bashar Al-Assad has come to create insurmountable tensions between Russia and the U.S.  

Kevin Martin, began his point with the yearly event on Oct. 4th, 2016, Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situation conducted a massive civil defense drill of 40 million people nationwide. Martin believed that if such a drill were conducted in the U.S.  – it would be catastrophic. However, Martin speculated the rhetoric of U.S.  “Cold War Triumphalism”, has shifted our policies towards isolating China and Russia. Martin found the evidence in the U.S. military budget and policies; what Martin described as the “New Nuclear Arms Race.” Martin detailed how the U.S. has plans to spend over $1 trillion dollars in the next 30 years to modernize our weapon systems. Martin listed the amount of future military purchases: new submarines, missiles, long-range bombers, upgrades to current weapon systems. However, Martin contrasted those numbers with the U.S. problems lack of funding for crucial issues such as social benefits and climate change.

“The threat of nuclear weapons makes everybody less secure,” Martin said. The investment into nuclear weapons creates misplaced priorities. Martin said,  “One person has the ability to end life on Earth; what kind of democracy is that?” Martin predicated it will take a serious change of U.S. military thought, Martin made a contradictory point, if you take away any of our tax dollars and put it towards anything but the Pentagon more jobs are created.

The solutions to the nuclear conflict are not going to fix it immediately, but action is crucial. Martin outlined the importance of humanitarian initiative to draft resolutions, outspoken community views involving our local congressmen on the issue, and prohibit the agenda of businesses that finance nuclear weapons as seen through the efforts of projects such as Dontbankonthebomb.com, a research report about finances on nuclear weapons.