Interesting reading


January 14, 2003, 05:14 PM
I find this interesting reading, but, there is a few items in it that look to me like misquotes or the showing of liberal bias.

Tackling tough issues: Visiting professor makes social subjects targets of discussion

By Charlie Breitrose
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

FRAMINGHAM -- Four hours. That's all the time visiting Professor Chris Cass gets to tackle a subject as broad and complex as guns in America in the social problems class he teaches at Framingham State College.

The next class he will move on to a different, but no less daunting problem facing society, such as health care for the elderly or sexism.

Cass told his class yesterday that guns are part of the foundations of the United States.

"The Constitution does not give us the right to health care or meaningful employment, but -- to many people -- it gives us the right to own guns," Cass said.

They creep into the everyday lives of people who don't even own a firearm. Sayings such as "Just a shot in the dark," "No one's holding a gun to your head" and "Gunshy" are related to guns, too, Cass said.

While guns, and laws to control them, have polarized the United States, Cass tries to present all sides of the argument.

"Neither side (in the gun debate) presents the truth," said Cass. "They show you shades of the truth."

One example Cass gave was the statistic given by gun control advocates that 13 children are killed each day by guns.

"When you think of child, how old do you think they are?" Cass asked the class. "The gun control (supporters) uses 19 and under. If you use this age, you get 13 a day, if you drop it to 12 and under it's less than two a day -- mostly accidents."

On the other hand, proponents of concealed weapons laws claim these laws were the cause of the drop in crime during the 1990s.

"The drop in crime is a real thing," said Cass. "But some states don't allow concealed weapons and the crime rate dropped in those states, too."

The National Rifle Association has concentrated much of its lobbying at the state level, Cass said, because that's where most of the laws are created.

Massachusetts has one of the three toughest gun laws, Cass said, and is known as a "may issue" state. As in, police departments may issue a gun license if someone passes the check. Most other states, however have "shall issue" laws, where people have the right to a license unless they have been convicted of a felony, been committed to a mental institution or other things that may disqualify the applicant.

Vermont doesn't even require people to have a license to own a gun.

Tracking guns and crimes committed with them is tough, Cass said. Estimates on the number of guns range from 200 million to 300 million. The number of firearms used in crimes range from the FBI's figure of 110,000 each year to the 2.5 million estimated by a study done at Florida State University.

Cass compared the Bay State to his home state of North Carolina. With similar populations, North Carolina has six times more murders committed with guns than Massachusetts.

While it appears the southern state is much more violent than Massachusetts, Cass noted that the Bay State's small geographic size (its about one-sixth the size of North Carolina) could account for the difference.

"If you are anywhere from Worcester to Boston you are no more than five minutes from a hospital," said Cass. "A lot of things that would be murders in North Carolina become attempted murders in Massachusetts because they get to a hospital."

The students in the class had to wrap their brains around tough issues each class, but they said the class was an enjoyable one.

"I think politics are pretty boring, but this is not bad," said Jessica Frost, a senior taking the class to fulfill a requirement to get her sociology minor.

Doug Morrison, an FSC sophomore, took the class as a break from his usual schedule.

"Most of my classes involve a lot of mathematics, but I wanted to do something a little different," Morrison said.

The long class times can be daunting, but senior Chris Calcasola said Cass' class is not a chore.

"It depends on the teacher, if you sit here for hours it can soon become really boring -- you go out of your mind," Calcasola said. "But this is interesting."

Cass will teach the social problems class again this spring, in a more leisurely 15 weeks. The gun issue is one of his favorite topics, however. Cass used to teach a whole course on it at Northeastern University.

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January 14, 2003, 05:43 PM
Seems to be fairly balanced - more of an "introduction to critical thinking" than anything else...

January 14, 2003, 06:45 PM
Interesting, indeed! :D

January 14, 2003, 06:54 PM
Sounds like an interesting teacher.

Monte Harrison
January 15, 2003, 09:29 AM
I'm shocked he hasn't been censured or even fired. Yet.

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