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UA student starts Second Amendment club to educate about firearm safety

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Lili Steffen and Lili Steffen | The Daily Wildcat Lili Steffen / Arizona Daily Wildcat Chris Bradford advocates gun rights on campus in front of the Modern Languages Building, on Sept. 20, 2013. A student advocacy group supporting gun rights on campus is in development.

A UA student is working on starting a non-partisan Second Amendment club.

Cale Lyford, an economics freshman, said he got the idea of starting Student Second Amendment Union about a week and a half ago. Lyford began to recruit students on the UA Mall and emailed the UA College Republicans and UA Young Democrats asking to promote the club at their meetings.

The club’s mission is to create a positive attitude toward firearms and educate people on how to properly use them, according to Lyford.

In order to reach this mission, club members would take trips to a shooting range, Lyford said, adding that through these trips, members would learn the importance of owning a gun and not being afraid of firearms.

“Second Amendment is traditionally a contentious issue and used between the two sides,” Lyford said. “But I think if your goal is education, then you’re going to want to attract people from both sides.”

Zoey Kotzambasis, president of UA College Republicans, said the idea of a club that trains its members how to shoot is “fantastic.” The College Republicans plan a trip to a shooting range every semester.

“A lot of the people who come with us have never shot before,” Kotzambasis said. “Once they learn how to use them, they realize it’s really not scary [like] how they thought it was, and I think it’s very empowering for a lot of our members.”

While he said he supports anyone trying to start a club on campus, Nick Mahon, president of UA Young Democrats, said education about guns should include facts about deaths caused by gunshots.

“If you’re going to have a club that explicitly talks in support of firearms and you’re not dealing with this kind of darker side of fireams, I’m still skeptical of it,” Mahon said.

Chris Hadji, vice president of the new club and a physiology junior, said while it’s important to talk about what can happen if someone misuses a firearm, talking about specific cases of deaths caused by guns turns the conversation into a political one.

“When you bring in … specific incidents that have happened, it’s starting to light the political fire,” Hadji said. “It is important that … they understand that what they’re handling can potentially injure or kill somebody if it’s handled incorrectly. But when you bring up specific incidents that have happened … it’s starting to get more into politics, and it’s not necessary.”

Lyford said he intends for the club to become recognized through the Associated Students of the University of Arizona in the spring. Currently, he is working on finding an adviser for the club, which is a requirement by ASUA.

Being on a college campus where students are already here to learn, Hadji said, the UA provides more teaching potential for this kind of club.

“It almost doesn’t matter if you like guns or not,” Hadji said, “it’s just a matter of learning about them, knowing how to handle them safely — and if the entire public was educated on how to handle firearms properly and safely, then there’d be a lot less accidents.”

Being on a college campus where students are already here to learn, Hadji said, the UA provides more teaching potential for this kind of club.

“It almost doesn’t matter if you like guns or not,” Lyford said, “it’s just a matter of, you know, learning about them, knowing how to handle them safely — and if the entire public was educated on how to handle firearms properly and safely, then there’d be a lot less accidents.”

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