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Republican legislators speak on gun incident, presidential election

Four Western clubs hosted a town hall meeting inviting three Republican state legislators, where they discussed Second Amendment rights, higher education and the presidential election. Western Students for Life, Young Americans for Liberty, None of the Above Club and Washington Students for Sensible Drug Policy hosted the event, held in Parks Hall on Tuesday, May 17. Two members of the panel were involved in the Donald Trump rally in Lynden; Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen is campaigning for Donald Trump and was influential in the Lynden Rally, and Washington Representative Vincent Buys sang the national anthem at the event. Representative Luanne Van Werven was also a part of the panel. The majority of attendants were community members. All state representatives are supportive of pro-life, Second Amendment rights and restructuring higher education. “I really became passionate about the issues of higher education,” Van Werven said. “In particular, how we deliver our higher education and how we spend our tax dollars for universities and colleges.” President of Young Americans for Liberty Sean Rita asked the state representatives if they would help students to fight Western administration to guarantee their constitutional rights to guns and asked how the panel felt about the man sighted on campus with a firearm on Sunday, May 15.   Ericksen, who is a concealed carry permit-holder, said Rita’s question is difficult to answer due to the possibility of there being people who don’t abide by Western’s policy. Buys is supportive of people who open carry, but said it is more of a political statement and safety issue to allow open carry because people are unaware of who may be a dangerous target. President of the Students for Life club Katie Lodjic said she met with Ericksen in Olympia in January and planned to have a town hall meeting on campus. “I’ve never been to an event like this up at Western with the student body groups,” Buys said. “I’m very heartened that there are still some pro-life groups and some conservative, liberty-minded groups up here.” The main purpose of higher education is to bring people out of poverty and to empower them to become educated and to get a job, Van Werven said. Because the the event was funded with taxpayer dollars, the legislators’ ethics would not allow them to discuss the presidential election, Ericksen said Ericksen did discuss the election later in the meeting and his opinions on the race and America’s health care system. America is struggling because of President Obama and how his health care system was built to fail, Ericksen said. When the health care system fails, Americans will be forced to make a decision by the election, Ericksen said. “You’re looking at an election right now that could fundamentally reshape [health care], whether it’s Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump or Hillary,” Ericksen said. “I personally don’t think it’s going be Hillary as a nominee.” Lodjic said the student groups hope to hold another town hall meeting at Western in the future, inviting the same speakers again unless different people get elected to their position.


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