“An assault weapon doesn’t exist,” said Kyle Linardo, a junior majoring in leadership studies and political science. He said people in favor of regulating guns often construed semi-automatic weapons such as an AR-15, which fire one shot per trigger pull, as assault weapons.
This statement was a major point representatives from the National Rifle Association expanded upon during a presentation titled NRA University, which was hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) on the evening of Friday, Oct. 18 in the Alice Haynes Room.
Linardo is the treasurer for YAL and helped organize the event. YAL is a group for both college and high school libertarians, Linardo said. The group brought the NRA University program to campus to educate students with facts about a controversial topic, he said.
“We feel like the Second Amendment is absolute,” Linardo said. Libertarians think that government should be in as few things as possible, believing in a free market and simple tax code, he said.
Miranda Bond and Robert Melvin were the two representatives from the NRA who presented before an audience of about 25 people. Bond began her presentation by explaining the history of the NRA. She also debunked some gun myths so that the students in attendance could talk about gun rights intelligently, she said.
One myth Bond spent a lot of time on was that of assault weapons. She said that assault weapons were defined by Congress in 1994 as a part of a weapons ban, but that Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004. She said that many of the guns people had wanted banned were actually semi-automatic, as opposed to automatic weapons.
Robert Melvin is a Virginia grassroots coordinator for the NRA, and he talked about why students need to vote and stay politically active.
Beyond that, he talked about many of the different ways students could become involved in the NRA.
One particularly well-received portion of the presentation was when Melvin presented the “Trigger the Vote” campaign’s video. The short video was meant to encourage voting based on gun rights, and it featured Chuck Norris in a starring role that drew quiet laughter from the audience.
“Your voices definitely matter,” Melvin said. He talked about the huge impact students and young people have had on the last few elections and used this as a way of reminding students that they could make a difference in politics. He strongly encouraged the students in attendance to do at least one voter registration drive per semester.
Melvin told students to join the political groups on campus. He said, “If I hadn’t gotten involved with the Young Republicans, I probably wouldn’t be working in the NRA now.”
The representatives from the NRA were unavailable for comments after their presentation. YAL meets every Thursday at 9 p.m. in the Think Tank.
Contact reporter Brennan Lutz at firstname.lastname@example.org