Kate Carlisle

Experts Discuss Gun Violence, Policy, Laws, Politics at Wesleyan

Wesleyan hosted “Guns and Gun Violence: Crisis, Policy and Politics” on Feb. 6. Pictured in the front row is panelist Saul Cornell of Duke University; event moderator Leah Wright of Wesleyan; and panelist Kristin Goss of Duke University.

Gun laws in the United States need to be changed to protect thousands of lives, but meaningful change is not a sure thing, even in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, three experts told a packed house at Wesleyan on Feb. 6.

The seminar, “Guns and Gun Violence: Crisis, Policy and Politics” featured three specialists in the legal, social and political aspects of firearms regulation, and drew a capacity crowd at the Center for the Arts Hall.

“The United States is not more violent, but more lethally violent (than other developed nations who have stricter gun laws),” said Matthew Miller of Harvard University’s School of Public Health. “ We have more serious, lethal violence.”

Miller is a physician with training in health policy and the effects of gun laws on rates of suicide and homicide.

He was joined by Saul Cornell of Fordham University, a specialist in the Second Amendment, who pointed out that the current constitutional debate is muddied by actual history.

The notion of self-defense was complicated in the 18th century and may not be relevant today, he said, noting also that the Second Amendment may have been rooted in a colonial requirement for male adults to own weapons, not simply a right.

Filmmaker, Educator to Deliver Keynote at MLK Day Celebration Feb. 1

Shakti Butler

Shakti Butler

Dynamic filmmaker and educator Shakti Butler will be the keynote speaker at Wesleyan’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Friday, Feb. 1. “Diversity University: From Theory to Practice,” is the theme of this year’s daylong commemoration.

Butler, a prominent speaker on racial equity, is the producer of documentaries including The Way Home; Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and Light in the Shadows. She is frequently hired by companies seeking a catalyst for change and uses audience participation and often, clips from her films, in her public appearances.

A multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish), Butler has worked as a bridge-builder and educator for more than 20 years.

Butler received her doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in the School of Transformative Learning and Change. She holds an M.A. in guidance and counseling from Bank Street College of New York and graduated magna cum laude from City College of New York.

Her address, at 3:15 p.m. in Memorial Chapel, caps a day of workshops on racial identity and privilege and screenings of two of Butler’s films, including her newest, “Cracking the Code: The System of Racial Inequality.” Learn more about these events and Wesleyan’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. on this website.