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February 27, 2013

Students From Around the US Debate Gun Control

The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs are classrooms, after-school programs and clubs around the country producing original, inspiring reports about how national and global issues affect local communities.

In the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., as well as several other mass shootings in recent memory, the national conversation has surrounded how best to prevent such incidences. While debate over images of violence in the media and the state of the mental health system have all been components of this conversation, nothing has elicited as much passion on both sides as the debate over gun control.

Recently, students from the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program from across the country sat down with NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan in Google Hangout to discuss guns and how best to prevent the next school shooting.


Attitudes toward guns differed dramatically from major cities where illegal weapons kill hundreds every year, to rural towns, where many residents hunt and own guns.

Spencer Baldwin from Shenandoah, Iowa, a rural community, said that many of his teachers are gun owners with concealed carry permits. “They’ve been trained to do that kind of thing and I think that having one in every classroom wouldn’t necessarily be a danger to the students.”

However, Ellie Batchiyska from Los Angeles disagreed with recent proposals to encourage teachers to carry guns, arguing that they are supposed to teach students how to avoid violence. “I know it’s a difficult definitely in L.A. because it’s such a huge city and our police department — it’s hard for them just to be able to monitor every school and the officers can’t stay with us all day so that’s complicated… It’s just dangerous.”

Students also admitted that video games and a violent media culture can numb kids to the brutality around them, but argued that the real problem has much more to do with home environments, mental health and bullying.

See excerpts from their discussion below:

Click here to watch their full discussion

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