A public panel discussion at Kenyon takes aim at “Gun Culture and the Second Amendment” on Tuesday, March 25, at 11:10 a.m.
The panel, featuring local firearms enthusiasts, will include a discussion about the history and tradition of guns in rural Knox County followed by comments and questions from the audience in Peirce Hall.
The event is part of a series of public forums, called Visits, which are planned by the Kenyon Rural Life Center. Each Visits discussion focuses on an issue important to the local culture and lifestyle. The forums are coordinated by Howard Sacks, Rural Life Center director and professor of sociology.
The panel includes W.H. “Chip” Gross of Fredericktown, an author of several outdoors books and a former hunter-education and shotgun-shooting instructor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Amy McDonald of Howard, a co-owner of Kokosing River Outfitters, a hunting- and fishing-guide business; and Jerry Scott of Mount Vernon, owner of Scott Auctions and a member of the National Rifle Association for more than 41 years.
“Firearms have been part of Knox County since frontier times,” Sacks said. “Understanding how they are used and how they have a place in our culture is relevant to understanding the broader issues of gun use in this country.
“Certainly the notion of gun use and gun control has been an issue on people’s minds and has been tossed around in the media,” he said. The panel is less a debate about the Second Amendment and more about “informing the debate with a conversation about how guns are actually used,” including in hunting and varmint control, Sacks said.
The panel moderator will be Rebecca Katzman ’14 of St. Louis, the student manager of the Rural Life Center. Katzman became interested in the issues of gun ownership while taking photographs of local gun enthusiasts for a documentary photography class at Kenyon. “Guns are a part of rural culture,” Katzman said. “In some ways, guns are a rite of passage, like a bar or a bat mitzvah is a rite of passage where I’m from, in the suburbs.”
Katzman concedes the topic is controversial and she expects a spirited and open dialogue. “Students should come out to engage with the community and challenge their own viewpoints,” she said. “And people from here should come out to listen to what others who grew up in different backgrounds have to say about gun control.
“If people really listen and attempt to see things from another point of view and take it in, they will learn something and, possibly, their opinions will be slightly altered.”
An upcoming program in the Visits series is “An Amish Sing,” on Tuesday, April 15. The events are free and the public is encouraged to attend. To learn more about Visits, visit Rurallife.kenyon.edu and call the Rural Life Center, 740-427-5850.