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Swartzendruber Backs “College Presidents for Gun Safety”

EMU President Loren Swartzendruber

College Presidents for Gun Safety was created after the deadly shootings of 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

President Loren Swartzendruber was among the early signatories. As of February 4, 2013, more than 350 of the leaders of 4,150 colleges and universities nationwide had signed the statement. The open letter to U.S. policy leaders urges them to:

  • Oppose legislation allowing guns on school campuses
  • End the “gun show loophole,” which allows people to buy guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check
  • Ban military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, along with high-capacity ammunition magazines
  • Require consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects

“I agree with the basic premise of the letter,” Swartzendruber said in an interview with the Harrisonburg (Va.) Daily News Record for an article published Jan. 3, 2013. “This is an important time for the nation to have conversations about how we respond to acts of violence and how we can work together to decrease violence in our society.”

Swartzendruber has stressed in his public statements that he is not opposed to gun ownership for “appropriate purposes,” such as hunting. “What I do think deserves a lot more attention is the availability of guns that have no other purpose other than to harm individuals.”

The college presidents’ open letter makes it clear that the issue is complex, requiring complex solutions to be developed, Swartzendruber said. “The call for more attention to mental health issues I think is absolutely critical. We do have mental health needs and we need to find better ways for identifying and providing treatment for those who do need those kinds of support systems.”

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