Dr. Urgo Joins University Presidents in Call for Gun Control Action

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Dr. Urgo Joins University Presidents in Call for Gun Control Action

St. Mary's City, MD - 12/21/2012

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By St. Mary's College Of Maryland

St. Mary's College of Maryland President Dr. Joseph Urgo
St. Mary's College of Maryland President Dr. Joseph Urgo

Following the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., St. Mary’s College of Maryland President, Joseph R. Urgo, has co-signed an open letter urging President Obama and Congress to take immediate action on gun control.

"All academic institutions from grade schools to colleges and universities are responsible for the educational preparation of our youth,” said President Joseph R. Urgo. "Within this duty to educate, we must not forget the well-being of the full person, physical as well as intellectual. I’ve joined a community of my peers to make it imperative that we work to end the cycle of mass killing made possible by assault weapons. As a college president, I owe my students—and as citizens of a great country, we owe our youth—a safe environment in which to study, to grow, and without fear to become the next generation of adults."

Generate by Presidents Lawrence M. Schall of Oglethorpe University and Elizabeth Kiss of Agnes Scott College, both in Atlanta, Ga., the letter, in only 48-hours, has been signed by more than 170 college and university presidents from across the country. The letter, in its entirety, is below.

If you would like more information or to speak with President Urgo, please contact Arminta Stanfield at 240-988-7418 or ajstanfield@smcm.edu.

December 19, 2012

On the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored colleges and universities. For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams. That issue is gun safety.

Among the world's 23 wealthiest countries, 80% of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87% of all children killed with guns are killed here (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery).  In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. 1,773 were victims of homicide; 67 were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.

We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws. We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder. Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.

As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:

Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms

Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check

Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines

Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects

The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.


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