Gun-watch group recruiting students

First Monday campaign absent from campus, but issue remains.

Gun control is an issue America has faced for years. Gun Industry Watch is a group that utilizes college campuses for their campaign and has jumped on the bandwagon to join the fight against gun violence.

Gun Industry Watch is striving to end gun violence by monitoring the gun industry and the National Rifle Association by educating the American public on gun safety. The organization is based out of Washington, D.C., and is sponsored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Alliance for Justice.

Tarek Rizk, a PSR member, said the use of college students for the basis of their campaign will be successful because they are the next generation to enter the world.

GIW focuses their annual campaign on an event called First Monday, which seeks out students, focusing on the medical and law field, and uses them to start the First Monday campaign on their campus. The campaign events and strategies are centered around a video titled "Deadly Business." The video was sent out to over 150 campuses across the nation in hopes of getting as many First Monday participants as possible.

"(First Monday) is an on-going campaign to raise awareness of tactics in the NRA and gun industry," Rizk said. "The key piece for the campaign is the video. It is really compelling. It talks about sales and techniques the gun industry uses."

One Ball State student headed up a group to participate in First Monday events. Shawn Williams is a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity, and e-mailed the First Monday campaign headquarters last year, letting them know he was interested in beginning the First Monday events at Ball State.

Williams became a crusader to end gun violence after his brother was shot in 1994. His brother was visiting friends when one friend found the father's gun. The gun was not locked and suddenly went off just as Williams brother was walking away.

Williams said he just feels it is easier to deal with his brother's death if he is involved in the fight to end gun violence. He heard about First Monday while on a Web site for the Million Mom March and wanted to get involved right away.

Last year, Williams and the members of Delta Sigma Pi passed out cards at the Scramble Light to fill out and send to state representatives, letting them know the stand students were taking against gun violence. Williams also made signs with victims' names on them and put them on chairs by the Scramble Light.

Volunteers collected 320 cards that day to send to representatives and senators. Williams said they had both positive and negative reactions to the campaign.

"I had one of my friends that I had worked with come up to me and tell me this was the stupidest thing ever," Williams said.

Williams, however, was not aware that Delta Sigma Pi was not supposed to take a stand on political issues. He said some people were slightly irate about the First Monday events.

This year Williams was not able to bring First Monday to Ball State. He said that he e-mailed First Monday but they just did not send him the information on time. He was looking forward to participating though.

According to Rizk, GIW also wants to spread awareness of the dangers of guns in the home.

"The gun industry says a gun is safety. It is more likely to be used by a kid who finds it than to shoot a robber," Rizk said.

Besides educating students, GIW has worked with political officials.

"We have worked closely with gun bills that are trying to close the loopholes in the industry," Rizk said.

The NRA is a group that is targeted and watched by GIW that says they do not feel threatened.

"That's their Constitutional right. We just ignore them," John Crone, Indiana field representative for the NRA, said.

Crone said the NRA supports gun laws. He said that making more laws for the distribution of guns will not help if the laws are not enforced. Crone blames gun violence not on the lack of laws but on criminals.

"Open your dictionary and look up the word 'criminal.' Criminals don't obey the laws," Crone said.

Crone reported that to buy a gun a person must go through extensive background checks. They have to fill out a 44-73 form and be approved by a police background check.

GIW has spread to campuses throughout the United States, but has not yet made the move to Ball State. Indiana University participated in First Monday this year and was sponsored by their School of Medicine.


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