Presidential Pledge On Guns

President Obama has promised to do everything in his power to curb gun violence. Now, several hundred college presidents are throwing their weight behind him.

As of Wednesday evening, more than 300 of them had signed on to two letters, one written by the president of Emerson College and the other by the leaders of Agnes Scott College and Oglethorpe University, that urged Obama to — with their help — actually do something about gun violence this time.

It’s not unusual to hear a college president here or there speak out against weapons specifically on campus, particularly when courts rule (as they have been wont to do lately) that campus gun bans are illegal. But many college presidents hesitate from speaking on public policy issues beyond those that are clearly higher education-related, such as student aid or visas for foreign students. Presidents said in interviews Wednesday that they hope enthusiastic support for the letters signifies that in the days to come, college presidents will take a more united and broad front on gun control as well.

Both letters were written out of sadness and frustration following last week’s massacre, in which 20 elementary school children and six teachers were murdered, but they take different approaches to addressing the issue. While the signatories of one offer up their resources to help start a comprehensive dialogue about gun violence, the presidents who signed the other want politicians to take specific steps – and fast.

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