GW students exercised their second amendment right to bear firearms on Saturday at National Rifle Association headquarters.
The NRA and National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va. welcomed 20 members of the College Republicans for a tour and lessons in safe gun handling. Students also practiced shooting semi-automatic pistols in an underground range.
“If we can teach people the safe and proper techniques of firing a gun in a controlled environment, then it is a positive experience for our members,” said Lee Roupas, president of the College Republicans.
Upon arriving at the headquarters, NRA officials gave the students a 20-minute lesson on the proper techniques of loading and operating a handgun. After a 25-question test, the group was lead into the shooting range were each student fired 10 bullets from a hand gun.
Before taking her turn, freshman Annie Kelly said she was excited and nervous to handle a gun for the first time.
“It’s a little nerve racking sitting here watching all these people fire these huge guns out on a range,” she said. “But I think this will be a valuable experience for me.”
Standing next to an NRA official, Kelly shot at a blue silhouette of a person, with a bulls-eye in the center of the cut-out. Less than three minutes later, Kelly returned to the group.
“It was really intense but I’m glad I did it,” Kelly said, “The whole thing was much louder than I had expected. I had trouble keeping my hand steady, but the instructors were really helpful and showed me through the whole process.”
NRA officials said the visit was beneficial to the students.
“Personally, I think it is great to have young people coming out to experience something like this,” said Henry, one of the NRA Officials helping students fire their guns, who declined to provide his last name. “It is a great way to teach personal responsibility and focus.”
Henry said he hopes the students got “a taste of something new and different” during the visit.
“It exposes you to a potentially dangerous weapon in a very controlled and safe environment,” he said. “It is really a valuable skill to have, and this is one of the best ways to learn how to do it.”
Some members of the College Republicans said they enjoyed the trip and learned about their right to bear arms.
“We are not advocating our members to go out and buy a gun, but want to give people an opportunity to know how to use it,” said Christian Berle, treasurer of the College Republicans.
Berle said the College Republicans sponsored the event because it “play(s) into the themes of our national party.”
“A lot of people in our party believe that this is an absolute right and that guns are a part of our culture,” he said. “Many of our members grew up hunting and recreationally using guns, this has lead many of our members to believe that guns don’t make criminals. Most of these people are law abiding citizens.”
However, some members said they think their right should be amended.
“If I were in charge, I would say that only hunting riffles should be allowed. No handguns, not even for the police,” sophomore Colin Christopher said.
Chistopher, a voting democrat who participates in College Republicans’ activities because they are “better” than College Democrats’ activities, said that guns have become a major problem in society. He said the government cannot just abolish guns altogether, but should phase them out.
“If that were the case I think we would have a much safer society today,” he said. “I think the goals of the NRA are fair and honest. I have absolutely no problem with people exercising their second amendment rights and I understand that people here have good intentions in using their second amendment, I just don’t agree with the entire principle.”
However, Berle said the second amendment is not the problem.
“Personally, I think that if the current gun control laws in this country are actually enforced, then we would have less of a problem with gun violence,” he said. “We need individuals who aggressively go after those who break the law.”