Texan Debate discusses banning assault weapons

By: Sierra Wells

Multimedia Journalist

Discussing whether to ban assault weapons in the state of Texas or not, Tarleton State University and the Department of Communication Studies held the annual Texan Debate on Nov. 3. The first two preliminary debates took place at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The third debate, which was broadcast live on YouTube, began at 6 p.m. in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center.

Tarleton Professor Winston Dawson addresses the audience before the Texan Debate begins.
Photo By: Sierra Wells

Texan Debate Director Winston Dawson opened the event with a preliminary vote to determine how the audience felt about the topic before the debate. The vote resulted in favor of those against banning assault weapons.

Dawson said, “What I would really like for you all to do is keep an open mind and understand that we have you here to listen to these cases, listen for the best case, the best evidence, the most compelling arguments and let that be the factor in which you decide your final vote.”

The government, which consisted of a prime minister and member of the government, argued in favor of banning assault weapons. On the other hand, the opposition was against the ban and consisted of a leader of opposition and a member of the opposition.

The debate began when Prime Minister Weslee Baker introduced the government’s primary reasons for banning assault weapons.

“Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at a Jason Aldean concert, 411 people were wounded and shot in ten minutes. Let that sink in, 411 people, souls, were shot, wounded and killed. 58 were shot there, two died later in the hospital [and] 30 were dead on sight. Let that sink in for a little bit, that’s a lot of people in ten minutes,” Baker said.

Following the prime minister, Leader of the Opposition Ashley Read provided arguments in support of gun rights.

“A ban on assault rifles is a violation of our Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. Through the Second Amendment the people of the United States are given the power to defend their family, property and country,” Read said. “Our founding fathers fought for our country’s constitutional rights, one being the right to bear arms. Without this given right to bear arms, America and her citizens are left defenseless against both domestic and foreign threats to their way of life.”

The Prime Minister speaking in support of the ban on assault weapons. Photo By: Sierra Wells

The next speaker was Coalton Lafoy, a member of the government, who clarified some of the government’s points, while also addressing his opponent’s arguments.

Lafoy said, “I just want to say we are not banning all guns. We are not infringing on the right to bear arms, and we are not going against it. We support that. We just want to prevent mass shootings. We just want to ban assault weapons.”

Kynzlee Nuttall, a member of the opposition, took the podium after Lafoy and brought up the misinformation about guns present in society.

“The people of today get most of their controversial information from social media. Social media has brainwashed the public on what an assault rifle is. Not everyone that owns an assault rifle is a mass murderer,” Nuttall said. “In most cases, people own these weapons for protection, hunting, war and because it is the new technology that is out.”

Closing out the debate, the leader of the opposition had one last chance to speak before the prime minister gave his final appeal to the viewers.

After both sides completed their arguments, the audience voted for who they thought presented the best case. With a majority of the votes, the opposition won the debate.

The results from the audience.
Photo By: Sierra Wells

Freshman Joseph Gillis, who attended and viewed the debate, agreed with the outcome of the audience vote.

Gillis said, “They brought really good points. I know they changed my mind.”

Dawson concluded the event by asking the government and opposition members questions about their experience. When Dawson asked what they thought was most difficult about the debate, the participants claimed that speaking in front of the public was the most taxing aspect.

Read said, “It was a really good experience, especially because I’m afraid of public speaking. I don’t think I’m as afraid anymore.”

To view this year’s debate, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go66YND_31Q.

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