Peace and Justice Event Explores Gun Debate

By Nathaniel Carnahan, Voice Contributor

The Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) hosted a screening of the 2016 film “Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA” at the Winter Park campus Friday evening. The film explores how guns have become a billion-dollar industry and contains several  personal stories of families and victims affected by gun violence.

Several times during the screening, audience members sighed or scoffed out loud. “It would help,” said one woman after a politician in the film said that background checks won’t do anything to stop gun violence. “Jesus Christ,” said another viewer when the film stated that Chuck’s Gun Shop sold more than 1,500 guns that were found at crime scenes in Chicago. There were multiple sighs and scoffs when the film showed former Governor Mike Huckabee responding to questions about proposed waiting periods for buying guns.

After the screening, there was a panel discussion with PJI Community Manager William Jefferson, Co-Chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Mark Pafford, Program Director of Orlando United Counseling Yasmin Flasterstein, Education Coordinator at the Victim Service Center of Central Florida Joshua Proffitt, and Co-Chair of the North Florida and Central Florida Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Shana Bell.

Asked the reason PJI chose to do this event, Rachel Allen, the Peace and Justice Institute Director, said “Well one of the issues that’s very important to many Floridians is the issue of gun safety and gun violence…part of our mission is to help, you know, build the culture of peace in Central Florida…having a conversation about gun violence is important to us.” Allen went on to cite issues like accidental gun deaths, suicide, and domestic violence.

Andrea Halperin from the Orlando chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said, “One of the things that we know that can prevent gun violence is making sure there’s a background check on every gun sale. So that’s one of our priorities because the data supports it so we are focusing on, you know, closing any loopholes, making sure that there’s background checks on private sales and at gun shows.”

Nick, a local Private Investigator who does not want his last name revealed, is an NRA member with a G license and a concealed weapon license.  “Well, we have background checks now,” he said. He suggested that we should “make it a step more to have a psychological evaluation also” when asked about reducing gun violence.

In 31 states including Florida, there aren’t universal background checks.  This means that private sellers, such as at gun shows, do not need to run background checks of people buying their guns in those states.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll taken in June 2017, 97% of Americans support universal background checks; 92% of gun owners support universal background checks.