Barons get fired up about firearms in Dumb Ox Debate


Photo by: Rachael Alexander

The Gentile Gallery teemed with over 100 students ready to debate about gun control Sunday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the 12th Dumb Ox Debate. 

The motion for the night’s debate was “this house believes that assault weapons should be banned in the United States.” The presenters’ arguments went back and forth, raising the issues of protection of life, human rights and the definition of “assault weapon” to make their claims. 

Affirming the motion were junior Theresa Bova and senior Michael Araps. Bova argued the biggest issue in America is violence among citizens. “73% of the murders in 2016 in the U.S. were committed with a firearm,” she said.  

Concerned with those with mental illnesses obtaining guns, she argued for citizens’ safety. “The well-being of the people — is that being placed in front of everything else?” she asked. 

Araps furthered the debate by defining an assault rifle and explained that, in accord with the definition, not all guns would be banned.  

Opposing the motion were Adam Nettina, a marketing and communications writer at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and sophomore Alex McKenna. Nettina said that since the mid-1990s, the crime rate has gone down and that most of the shootings did not happen with assault rifles. “It’s rare to have a crime with assault rifles,” said Nettina. 

“Compliance is an issue,” Nettina also said. “If you make a law, people have a choice. They can follow it or not follow it.” 

McKenna argued banning weapons goes against philosophical, theological and political standpoints. Philosophically, he asked, is the hand or the gun at fault? He quoted the Catechism, which says lethal force is sometimes necessary for self-defense, and pointed out that banning guns infringes on the second amendment. 

In the end, the crowd voted to oppose the motion of banning assault rifles, 116 to 12. 

Students witnessed to the uneven result of the debate. Sophomore Emily Bowman said, “I thought it was a little disappointing how … the fact that mass shootings and small children dying wasn’t brought up till  30 minutes left in the debate.” 

Sophomore Monica Forsthoefel said, “I think the arguments produced a more lopsided result than actual opinions might have. My stance was opposing the motion, and I left with the same.” 

The debate was hosted by the Veritas Society. The next debate will be Oct. 20 with the motion “this house believes in receiving the Eucharist on the tongue.”