YSU hosts discussion on gun violence

Guttenberg (center) and Gabor (right) discuss gun violence while Francisco (left) moderates. Photo by Matthew Sotlar / The Jambar

By Matthew Sotlar / The Jambar

Youngstown State University hosted its annual Centofanti Symposium on March 20 at Stambaugh Auditorium to discuss gun violence in America.

The symposium welcomed Thomas Gabor, a former criminology professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Fred Guttenberg, an anti-gun violence advocate whose daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed in the 2018 Parkland High School shooting. YSU English professor Tim Francisco moderated the event.

Guttenberg and Gabor are the co-authors of “American Carnage: Shattering the Myths that Fuel Gun Violence.” The main goal of their discussion at YSU was to bring awareness to misinformation surrounding gun violence.

Guttenberg said he has become interested in politics to pass legislation that prevents deaths caused by gun violence.

“I have gone across this country working to get candidates either elected or fired,” Guttenberg said. “I have worked with members of both parties who want to do the right thing on this issue. Unfortunately, it’s mainly one party trying to do something on this issue right now.”

In June 2022, Guttenberg met with President Joe Biden to discuss gun safety. With contributions from Guttenberg, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was created.

Guttenberg said the amount of heavy weaponry in America has increased in the past 20 years.

“In 2003 … we had just about 200 million weapons in America, far fewer weapons than we have today. Today only 20 years later, we are well over 400 million weapons,” Guttenberg said. “Twenty years ago, when my daughter was born, AR-15 sales were less than 2% of all guns sold. Today, they are over 25%.”

Gabor has studied gun violence for over 30 years. He previously worked with Canada’s Department of Justice to understand the causes and prevention of gun violence.

“The Department of Justice reached out to me and asked to do a review of, first of all, what are the solutions that work? The field was really in its infancy at the time. What does the body of evidence tell us? I didn’t have an ax to grind, I wasn’t a gun owner, but I had an interest in violence in the criminology field, specifically guns and gun violence,” Gabor said.

Gabor’s study for the Canadian Department of Justice showed a strong correlation between an increase in gun sales and ownership with gun violence.

“Generally, what the evidence was telling us was that the more guns, the more gun violence — whether it’s homicide, suicide, or accidents. So, it was really something, to me at least, a numbers game,” Gabor said.

Guttenberg said historically, America was once devoted to property gun ownership and safety.

“We always passed gun laws in this country,” Guttenberg said. “In fact, the Supreme Court case from last year that overturned a law that was in New York didn’t overturn some radical new law that people weren’t agreeing on, it overturned a law that was over 100 years old. And I tell you that because we always passed gun safety laws in America.”

At the end of the symposium, Guttenberg asked the audience to properly research the statistics around gun violence to prevent spreading misinformation.

“Take the time, invest in the reading, invest in the research. Take the time to know the truth, and most importantly, go out and vote. Vote for the issues that matter,” Guttenberg said.