Although I knew I leaned a bit conservative, I had never thought much about the political environment I lived in. After taking a current events class, I realized that I lived in a completely Democrat-controlled city, Philadelphia, and that the college I chose to go to was probably going to be a challenge for me as a conservative outsider.
During my first year at the University of the Sciences, there were two mass shootings, one in Las Vegas and one in Parkland. It wasn’t long before debates about gun laws came up in classes that had nothing to do with the issue. In most of these classes, I was looked down upon for being the sole defender of the Second Amendment. To prove that I wasn’t bothered by the antagonists on campus, I started wearing t-shirts with a rifle and American flag printed on it and carrying my NRA book-bag.
I carefully decided when I would speak up and when I would ignore the conversation, since I knew if I got involved the result would be emotional classmates and teachers calling me evil or saying that I support mass shootings.
It wasn’t until my second semester that I saw a great opportunity to make a strong argument for the Second Amendment, when I found out I had a major speech assignment in my communications class. In one of the first classes of the semester, my teacher used campus-carry as an example topic and out of curiosity asked the class to vote on it. To no surprise, I was the sole hand raised in favor of campus-carry.
Finally, towards the end of the semester, we were given a day to choose topics. This wasn’t too long after the horrible shooting in Parkland, so I figured I would find an opponent quite easily on the topic of banning assault weapons. I asked if anyone would be willing to argue about this topic, but no one answered. It wasn’t until the end of the topic choice session that another student told me he would be willing to debate campus-carry.
From the beginning, I knew it would be difficult to persuade the class to agree with the idea of campus-carry. Countless times I zoned out in class thinking of how I would organize my argument and which major points I would use to win over this crowd. Before the debate, the class had to give pre-debate ratings on each debate topic. My topic was graded as a 5.25 on a 7 point scale, with 4 signifying no opinion, either way, meaning the class leaned towards opposing campus carry.
I worked on, refined, and practiced my speech for weeks— which was easier than it sounds, since I am very passionate about the Second Amendment. I finally gave my speech at the end of the semester. My first major point was that campus-carry is protected by the Second Amendment, and I defended it by dissecting the wording of it and what James Madison had written in the first draft. I also included quotes from Alexander Hamilton and James Madison which were in the Federalist papers. I knew I needed to lean heavily on the Second Amendment, so I also included the definition of “militia” at the time the Bill of Rights was written. I then argued against the assertion that since some ratifiers were slave owners, that made the Second Amendment illegitimate.
My second major point was that law enforcement fails far too often to rely solely on them for protection. I defended this point by listing multiple instances, most recently Parkland and the Broward Sheriff’s office, where law enforcement intervention could have prevented a mass shooting but didn’t due to a slow response time. My third and final point focused on crime on college campuses, which I defended using examples of colleges with campus-carry and their crime rates.
After my opponent gave his speech, I had swung the minds of many in the audience in favor of campus carry. I considered this a huge win, since I walked onto that floor believing there was nothing I could say to change the minds of my classmates!
This moment on my college campus gave me hope for the conservative movement. It showed me that when everyday people and people with sparse political backgrounds are presented with logical reasoning and statistics, they do move toward the conservative position.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.