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CDI tackles hard topics in talking circle

Nicky Gupta


The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) hosts many events throughout the year, including Talking Circles which can deal with a multitude of topics ranging from immigration, abortion rights, and earlier this month, mass shootings and how to move forward. These topics of interest are chosen by the members of the CDI, called inclusion advocates, and are based on current or relatable concerns. Talking Circles, as stated on CDI’s webpage, are “a method of dialogue based on a Native American tradition that invokes respect and reflection.”

The event took place on Tuesday, February 11, at 5 p.m. in Allen 104. However, Talking Circles are hosted every Tuesday or Wednesday by the CDI. Facilitator and professor of social sciences and criminal justice, Paul Werrell, prepared some documents for the discussion along with five other students. The main message that Werrell wanted to leave behind in the circle was that mass public shootings are very rare, to look at both sides of every argument, and to not let media and politics control you-that is, to question everything you see and hear.

Werrell began by giving the students a synopsis of the state of mass shootings in America, first noting that they are extremely rare but catch high amounts of media attention and influence from celebrity activists. Many people have asked whether or not the U.S. places first in terms of gun violence, and despite popular opinion, that is not true. According to one of the handouts distributed at the meeting, countries that rank higher overall in strict gun control such as Switzerland and France ranked much higher than the U.S. when it came to the frequency of mass shootings. The U.S. makes up around 2% of the world’s mass shootings, with familicides being far more frequent in the category.

Mass shootings are still an issue no matter the percentage they make up overall. So, how does society move on from them? One preventative measure is to understand whether or not it is an issue of guns or behavior. Many experts believe that it is a combination of both and what we can do to curb the issue is to report anything we see as unusual behavior, push for mandated threat assessments/better mental health services, strengthen family structures, and have law enforcement collaborate with one another to identify threats.

The group briefly looked into the issue of gun control and whether or not a complete ban is necessary. Many members agreed that some types of restrictions should be provided in terms of background checks and military-grade weapons. Others agreed that guns are a part of culture for many and that people need to check themselves. Contrary to popular belief, Werrell noted that mental illness is not to blame for many of these mass shootings, but rather it’s an entire slew of behavioral issues. 

However the public decides to look at the issue, one thing remains certain: we must continue to have conversations about this in order to educate people for generations to come.

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