By Zainab Iqbal
Arguably one of the most progressive groups on campus, the Brooklyn College International Socialists (BC ISO), held one of its weekly routine meetings yesterday at 12:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of James Hall, where the club’s members discussed what they believed was the correct way to address mass shootings plaguing our country.
The regular-sized classroom was filled with six BC ISO members, including Professor Nicholas Rynearson and Daphna Thier, the president of the club. The chalkboard was embellished with posters of activism with slogans such as, “No human being is illegal!”
The hour-long conversation was introduced by Thier, who briefly explained the movement of high school students walking out of schools and challenging politicians who accept money from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The floor then belonged to Maya, who had out her Dell laptop that was decorated with stickers saying “Resist Hate,” and “No Bans, No Bombs, No Wall.”
She referenced the promising statements many colleges across the country—including Pace University, Columbia University, and Syracuse University—are making, letting high school students know that if they were to be suspended for protesting guns, their college admission will not be affected. Brooklyn College has yet to make such a statement, but according to BC President Michelle Anderson, City University of New York (CUNY) Central is working on one right now.
“There are a lot of colleges sending out alerts saying if you are a student and walking to protest, it won’t affect college admission, which is kind of nice to say,” Maya said. “But it’s also important to remember how many black and brown people are still serving out ten-year-long sentences doing exactly what these students are doing right now.”
She then spoke about the pattern that occurs every time following a mass shooting.
“A shooting happens, then ‘Oh, we need action,’ thoughts and prayers, and nothing really happens. And it just keeps happening over and over and over again.”
The gun debate has always been between the left and the right, she said. She explained how liberals point fingers at the NRA and want guns banned, which makes sense as the NRA gives out the guns. The conservatives “preach to the mental illness, lone wolf story we all heard,” she said.
The United States has been at war 93 percent of its existence. And according to Maya, “that kind of violence is seeping into the domestic setting.” She argued that it’s really no surprise that there is violence in America, as the country itself has been involved in violence for 222 out of the 239 years it has existed.
Rynearson then brought up the point many others bring up: “’I support the second amendment, but I don’t think a monster like this should have gotten it.’ They entirely avoid the question: Where are these monsters coming from?”
According to Thier, there’s a big difference between hand guns and assault rifles, the latter of which are commonly used in mass shootings).
“Assault rifles are not about defense. They’re about assault,” she said. “It’s in the name.”
The intimate conversation continued, bringing up points on mental illness and how it’s unfortunately being used as a scapegoat, how race plays a role in the gun issue, and police militarization.
“Guns are a good place to start,” Maya said, “but there are obviously many other questions that need to be answered.”