SUCU Welcomes Speakers to Present on Second Amendment Rights


Jake Nelson

Dan Mitchell, co-owner of Sporting Systems gun dealership, talks about Initiative 1639 which raised Washington’s legal age to purchase guns.

Seattle University Conservative Union (SUCU) held an event called “Why we Defend the Second Amendment” to open up dialogue on the Second Amendment and why it should be protected. The speakers at the talk were Joel Ard and Dan Mitchell—the owners of Sporting Systems—a gun dealership in Vancouver, Washington.

Over the course of the talk Ard and Mitchell discussed why they believe that Second Amendment rights should be protected. They explained that protection from the government and recreational hunting and shooting are the main reasons that people purchase guns.

Matthew Waldman, the president of the SUCU and a second-year nursing student, helped organize the talk and gave the speakers the space to present to the student club. Waldman said that it is important to bring in speakers for community members to learn more about this topic.

“It is important, especially for something like the Second Amendment, I don’t know everything,” Waldman said. “So to get [Mitchell and Ard] here to talk about their experience as activism, we can really learn a lot as a club.”

Mitchell is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state challenging Initiative 1639. This initiative was on the ballot in 2018 and passed with nearly 60% support of Washington State voters.

The initiative raised the legal age to purchase semi-automatic firearms from 18 to 21 and requires those who buy them to go through training. It additionally increased background checks and waiting periods and set new standards for storing guns.

According to Mitchell, understanding how this impacts the civil freedoms is an important thing to discuss, especially with newer voters.

“Any chance to have a discussion and educate people, especially young adults and help provide information is nothing but a good thing to me,” Mitchell said. “There is a lot of misinformation that goes beyond political opinion that people don’t understand. No matter what your opinion is on the Second Amendment is, you should still know the facts about it in order to have a conversation.”

Members of SUCU said that on what they consider to be an overwhelming left-leaning campus, they are not usually given a chance to share their opinions.


Jake Nelson

The event was impactful for Hannah Booth, a fourth-year nursing student and the executive recruitment and retainment officer of the club, as it allowed her to have a conversation with the students in the club about these issues.

Booth believes that in the Seattle area, only one side of this topic is vocalized, and explained that the club wanted to bring an “expert in the field” to express the views of those who are pro-gun.

“If you’re wondering why there aren’t other opposing voices here it’s really because they didn’t want to come,” Booth said. “We have posters up, the event is online, we have our emails and rosters that go out. We really do our best to get the word out and for all people to come.”

In the official description of the event, SUCU says, “Regardless of your views, we hope you’ll join us for a conversation about the 2nd Amendment!”

Keetra Kartes, a third-year nursing student and the vice president of the club, attests to the respectful manner in which members discuss.

“I think that our mission is to make sure we have a voice for all people who have different viewpoints, we really just want to promote thoughtful discussion, and to allow room for people to have different opinions,” Kartes said. “Even in the club, we all have different opinions on things and I haven’t once had to intervene to get people to watch their tone…Everyone just tries to be very civil here and respect each other.”

While most of those who attended the event were club regulars, Waldman says that he hopes more students will go to their events in order to have discussions about these issues.

“We really want to give a space for students with [conservative] viewpoints to feel like they can discuss them, but we also want people who don’t have those viewpoints to come learn and talk about this with us.”

Logan may be reached at [email protected]