With a renewed focus on lobbying for gun control, Emma Welsh-Huggins ’17 is helping lead efforts to revitalize the Kenyon Students for Gun Sense (KSGS). KSGS is a reboot of the organization Students Against Gun Violence, which existed at Kenyon’s campus in previous years. This year, KSGS hopes to move beyond discussion to bring about action.
“At KSGS, we are not anti-gun,” Welsh-Huggins said. “We would like to facilitate and encourage a culture where you can own a gun, but you can be a responsible and informed gun owner.”
In the upcoming months, one of the club’s biggest priorities is lobbying the Ohio State Senate to vote against House Bill 48, which would allow concealed-carry license holders to bring handguns into areas such as public buildings and daycare centers. If the bill becomes law, institutions of higher education may choose whether to authorize concealed carry on their campuses; President Sean Decatur has previously told the Collegian that Kenyon will remain a gun-free zone even if the bill passes.
“We don’t live in a vacuum,” Jackson Pine ’18, a KSGS co-leader, said of House Bill 48. “What happens in Columbus, it affects the entire community of Ohio.”
The club, which Welsh-Huggins leads along with Pine, Audrey Neubauer ’19 and Catherine Von Holt ’19, aims to promote a nonpartisan, fact-based discussion that extends beyond the public’s immediate reaction to national tragedies. The club plans to achieve this goal with initiatives such as lectures, panels and film screenings.
Meredith Bonham ’92, vice president of student affairs, is the club’s faculty advisor. “As a student affairs administrator, gun violence on college campuses is something that I am very attuned to, given my responsibility for student safety,” Bonham said.
The club will work to engage Knox County and other surrounding communities to facilitate a discourse on the role guns play in student life. “We can’t have a discussion if it’s just liberal college students sitting around a table,” Welsh-Huggins said. “That’s not a discussion that’s going to change anything.”
The club leaders’ determination to take action has sparked excitement among new members. “It’s an issue that speaks to me,” Cece Dye ’18 said. “There are a lot of groups that just sit around and talk about things, and I wanted to be a part of something that is proactive.”
The revamped club seeks to depart from mere informative discussions, in favor of an effort to promote gun control on the Kenyon campus and beyond.
“I want [KSGS] to empower students, faculty and community members to know and to feel that they can make a difference, and to give them opportunities to make that difference,” Welsh-Huggins said.