‘Why are you entitled to be safe?’ the gun owner asked this teen
A couple of weeks ago, a fire alarm went off at Beatrice Cappio’s high school.
“Everyone stopped to wonder, well, is there a shooter in the hall? Is it really an evacuation, should we really leave?” Cappio said.
She sat down with Sharyn Hinchcliffe, a gunowner, as part of KUOW’s “Ask A…” series where two people talk to better understand the other's perspective.
Cappio, a student at University Prep in north Seattle, was an organizer of the student walkout on March 14 that was part of a day of national demonstrations to, in part, advocate for gun control.
“Any gun control measure that would keep an AR-15, for instance, out of the hands of a bad person would make me feel safer in my school,” Cappio said.
Hinchcliffe, an administrator for the Pink Pistols of Seattle, argues that laws don't effectively protect people from criminals.
“When you have individuals who flagrantly ignore the law or break the law, no new law is going to stop them,” Hinchcliffe said. “The best thing I can say is learn to protect yourself, don’t depend on somebody else to be there to protect you, because they may not be there.”
Cappio: “But why shouldn’t we do our best to prevent that? For instance, banning assault rifles that have been used in the deadliest mass shootings in our country? Shouldn’t things that make it easier and faster for people to kill be taken out of the hands of civilians?”
Hinchcliffe: “When you take something out of the hands of civilians – and I hear this a lot with individuals who are against the current administration – the current administration would have all the power."
Cappio: “Why should any of those guns be put in civilian hands? Because they don’t make it so that I feel safe at a movie theater. They don’t make it so I feel safe at my school.”
Hinchcliffe: “Why are you entitled to be safe?”
Cappio: “Isn’t it just a human right? To be safe in a place of worship, in a place of education?”
Hinchcliffe: “Who’s going to protect you?”
Cappio: “Well, I expect that as a 16-year-old for adults to protect me. I expect that the politicians will pass laws that will make it so I can actually feel safe in my classroom and going to a movie theater with my friends.”
Hinchcliffe: “You have had the police attack communities of color. You’ve had individuals who have actually attacked communities of immigrants. You’ve had the police attack communities of LGBTQ.”
Cappio: “The government needs to protect me more by passing gun laws that prevent terrible people from having terrible weapons of war.”
Hinchcliffe: “To be in high school and to see some of the stuff that’s going on has got to be horrifying. You have individuals who are always going to be bad. Nothing anybody can do is going to stop them.”
Cappio: “It’s a little disheartening that there’s such disagreement and at the same time there’s not really a common ground that can be found.”
Listen to other conversations with gun owners below.
Gun owner Matthew Brown and Basilia Brownwell did find middle ground on gun legislation, like requiring tax-payer funded training to purchase a firearm and supporting research into gun violence.
Douglas Campbell, who owns an AR-15, talks with Fritz Kessler about the political climate around guns.
"At this point the gun issue is so convoluted and so politically and emotionally charged that if action were to be taken in Congress I think that the result that either of us would want would be dramatically different than the final bill we would get," Campbell said.
Jade Macer, a junior in high school, asked gun owner Theresa Searls whether she would support legislation that banned some types of weapons if it didn't infringe on hunting or sport shooting
"Absolutely. I think that's essential right now and I fully support Ar-15s being banned. I also understand that some people find shooting an automatic weapon thrilling and they have that right to enjoy that," Searls said. "I think it would be best enjoyed if they can go to a range and have the right to rent that gun and have that experience."
Krista Cherry, a sophomore at Nathan Hale High School, was one of the organizers of the March 14 walkouts. Gun owner John Conley said the students who have been taken on these issues have inspired him.
"If it wasn't for this generation stepping up we would still be wallowing in the morass we have wallowed in for so many years with this issue." he said.
Conley's daughter was killed in a 2013 drive-by shooting.
Thomas White identifies as a trans non-binary person who has owned guns since the age of 14. Chris Porter is also part of the LGBTQ+ community. They talk about the different ways they approach guns in regards to that community.
Both Helvi Gemmer and Matthew Brown are gun owners. They recap the different questions they got at the event and what their different reactions were.