Gun control assembly held by debaters


Junior Saachi Jain and Anuj Sharma (12) engage in cross examination during Wednesday’s debate on gun control. During this time, the two discussed at which point the government should intervene with legislature concerning ownership of assault weapons.

At 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, students filed into the gym to attend the morning’s gun control debate held by the debate program.

The four students who participated argued for or against stricter gun control laws in the form of federal bans on semi-automatic weaponry and more thorough background checks on owners. Seniors Anuj Sharma and Warren Zhang argued for these extra measures while Ayush Midha (10) and Saachi Jain (11) argued against them.

The debate started with a round of constructives, each followed by cross examinations with an opposing debater.

The affirmative argued for a renewal of The Federal Assault Weapons Ban and universal background checks, citing several studies to back up their case. Anuj and Warren also suggested that reducing the availability of guns will consequently reduce the risk of mass shootings and diminish the effects of the violent drug trade in Mexico.

Fighting back, the negative, Ayush and Saachi, argued that criminals can easily circumvent laws and background checks by obtaining guns through theft or the black market. They also pointed out that background checks would be ineffective because of technology issues and a lack of shared databases.

“I could go to Canada and buy assault weapons,” Ayush said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

The latter part of the hour-long debate consisted of rebuttals from each of the four debaters. Some viewers found these statements to be too repetitive.

“I felt that the debate provided good insight to the community as to what debaters actually do in general, but I felt that some of the points kept being repeated and refuted back and forth a little too many times,” Nicky Semeza (11) said.

Sophomore Felix Wu agreed that the debate represented both sides of the argument well, additionally identifying some drawbacks.

“I think overall the debate was very good as the speakers were articulate and obviously well prepared,” he said. “However, I thought it was a bit lengthy, and I would’ve liked to see an audience vote at the end.”

Other students also felt that the interactive element characteristic of assemblies was missing from the debate.

“It could have been improved by perhaps opening up to some interested audience members, or first taking an initial poll of the issue to gauge how the upper school feels about this issue,” Sanjana Kaundinya (10) said.

According to public forum debater Aneesh Chona (12), the debate’s purpose was to expose the student body to a wealth of viewpoints and to allow for a more balanced perspective on one of society’s more controversial issues.

The idea of the assembly was conceived by Ayush, who had talked to his debate teacher Gregory Achten. Initially, they had decided to host the debate during long lunch, but after discussing with Upper School Division Head Butch Keller, they chose to hold it as a school-wide assembly.