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The NRA gives a presentation at Penn Credit: Alex Neier

Referencing two recent decisions by the Supreme Court, Suzanne Anglewicz, a representative from the National Rifle Association, described the right to bear arms as an individual right. “Rights belong to people. Powers belong to government,” she said in Huntsman Hall on Thursday night.

At a packed event sponsored by the Penn College Republicans, members of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action critiqued arguments supporting gun control and encouraged students to support pro-gun candidates in the upcoming 2010 midterm elections.

Using a variety of crime statistics, Anglewicz, manager of political and legislative activities for the NRA-ILA, disputed the connection between guns and crime and argued against renewing the ban on assault rifles.

Explaining that she uses Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice crime statistics to lend her argument credibility, Anglewicz contended that a rise in the number of guns in the population correlates with a decrease, rather than an increase, in several types of crime.

“A lot of people don’t know the real statistics,” said Penn Shooting Club Founder and President Cille Kissel, a College junior. Kissel also credited Anglewicz with doing a “good job dispelling misinformation” during her presentation.

Expanding her critique, Anglewicz used the high murder rates in Washington, D.C., to argue that gun control — specifically, the district’s 34-year ban on handguns — did not result in less crime. The ban was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008.

Anglewicz, however, did not discuss the practice of banning firearms on college campuses. At Penn, the 2010-2011 Occupancy Agreement for undergraduates and the Chapter House Occupancy Agreement for Greek organizations both explicitly prohibit the possession or use of ammunition or firearms.

Admitting she was surprised that the ban on firearms at colleges was not discussed, Kissel described the practice as fairly standard across the country. However, Kissel also noted that she does not see a reason why an individual with a concealed weapons license should not be able to carry a weapon across campus.

While Pennsylvania law is silent on the legality of openly carrying a firearm, Philadelphia law prohibits unlicensed individuals from carrying a firearm on the public streets of Philadelphia.

As the discussion moved to the 2010 midterm elections, Miranda Bond, a member of the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, stressed the importance of getting out the vote for a litany of NRA-backed candidates in Pennsylvania. Both Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett received endorsements from the organization.

While the NRA is commonly associated with the Republican Party, the organization has endorsed members from both sides of the aisle — including 61 Democratic House of Representatives candidates and two Democratic Senate contenders in the 2010 election.

Tacking off a historical list of close state and federal races, Bond stressed the importance of every individual vote and encouraged students to participate in grassroots activities in the 11 remaining days until the Nov. 2 election.

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