In the first forum sponsored by the newly formed Harvard Coalition for Handgun Control (HCHC), members of the Democratic and Conservative Clubs debated the issue of gun control last night.
Before a crowd of about 20 people in Emerson Hall, Molly Anderson '84 and Benjamin B. Sherwood II '85 of the Democratic side urged national legislation for the restriction of handguns. Their opponents, Conservatives Tom M. Clark '85 and Bennett E. Cooper '83, emphasized the right to bear arms, and both said there was "no compelling reason to subvert that right."
"Having guns leads to freedom," Clark said. Citing the second amendment, he added, "An armed citizenry is the bulwark against tyranny."
Anderson called for "practical considerations--those which affect "the real world." She urged adoption of the proposed Kennedy-Rodino bill, which requires registration of handguns and prosecution of those in illegal possession of them.
The Conservative faction argued that federal legislation will not decrease crime or deter criminals. "Those who want to kill will kill anyway," Cooper said.
Restricting ownership of handguns will "deprive the law-abiding citizenry of its right to protect itself," Clark said, adding, "It would be like putting sheep in the fox's lair."
But Sherwood said, "Handguns cause 20,000 deaths a year. Must we sacrifice those lives for the right to bear arms?"
"We can't quantify how much a John Lennon or a Martin Luther King is worth," Anderson added.