Home Campus Senator holds up replica Constitution as gun control debate heats up

Senator holds up replica Constitution as gun control debate heats up

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Sen. Cade Plotts (pictured) left senate's Wednesday night meeting after a heated debate on gun control. Photo by Connor Perrett.

“The Second Amendment isn’t about having a big enough gun to hunt a deer, it’s about making sure the government doesn’t turn on us and take away our First Amendment rights,” Plotts said.

At its Wednesday night meeting Ohio University Student Senate passed two bills: one in favor of increased broadband access in Southeast Ohio, and another advocating for increased gun control measures. 

Gun regulation debate

The body erupted in heated debate over Bill 1718-21, which calls for stricter gun regulations. The bill, which passed with two opposing votes, will be sent to Ohio state legislators and university officials.

The bill resolves that assault weapons are banned in Ohio, background checks are expanded, that schools and universities recognize early signs of violence and the state require guns be kept in a safe or lock box.

Primary sponsor Joe Frate, Off Campus Commissioner, said the proposal was for common sense gun control.

“I think this is a sensible response to an epidemic in our country,” Frate said.

Cade Plotts, West Green Senator and an adamant opposer of the bill, responded by reciting the Second Amendment while holding a replica Constitution.

“The Second Amendment isn’t about having a big enough gun to hunt a deer, it’s about making sure the government doesn’t turn on us and take away our First Amendment rights,” Plotts said.

The debate continued as members threw quotes from the Founding Fathers across the room. Plotts threw out quotes from George Mason and Thomas Jefferson defending the right to bear arms, which Frate refuted with opposing quotes from Jefferson.

After Senate President Landen Lama added an extra five minutes to the allotted 15 minute debate, the body finally reached a vote. Plotts raised his Constitution in opposition and then left the meeting. Plotts later told a TNP staffer that he left to attend a meeting of the Ohio U College Republicans, not because of the debate.

The bill hit home for Minority Affairs Senator Jordyn Zimmerman, who lost a cousin in the Parkland shooting. Zimmerman was a primary sponsor of the bill.

“My cousin was a victim in Parkland and each of those victims would be with us today if we had common sense gun legislation,” Zimmerman said.

Lama said he was in full support of the bill.

Broadband expansion

Student Senate also unanimously passed a bill to fund internet expansion across more than 10 counties in Southeast Ohio. They are seeking funding from the university.

The bill also asks state legislators to “pursue solutions to broadband access, reliability and speed with utmost haste as a matter of life, death, and human rights.”

Half of rural America doesn’t have access to broadband internet according to Liz Shaw, the chairperson for the Citizens Connectivity Committee. Metropolitan areas have over 99 percent access to broadband, whereas Monroe County in Southeastern Ohio has zero percent, Shaw said.

The lack of access to the internet directly affects students’ academic performance and success, she added.

“There are some dreams afforded and talent wasted,” Shaw said.

Athens High School senior Lilah Gagne, who spoke with Liz Shaw, said she uses her phone to write essays and complete homework assignments, sometimes going to local restaurants just for free WiFi.

“I have worked really hard to not let this define my academics,” Gagne said.

Her story is like that of many students in rural areas. Multiple senators shared their experiences with limited broadband access.

The bill passed.

Other notable happenings

  1. The body passed a bill to distribute pamphlets on reproductive and sexual health.
  2. It also passed a bill to appoint a committee to award the Bobcat Medal.
  3. The transition of the newly elected executive members begins Monday.

Editor’s Note: The headline previously implied that Sen. Cade Plotts left the Student Senate meeting due to conflicts over the gun regulation debate. It has been changed and the body has been updated.

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