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Pelton begins fulfilling Emerson’s pledge on gun violence

In a message to more than 1,700 college presidents yesterday (January 22), Emerson College President Lee Pelton has announced the establishment of the College Presidents’ Gun Violence Resource Center and has again encouraged them to join the 255 presidents who have made a pledge to President Obama to lead discussions about America’s culture of gun violence.

The College Presidents’ Gun Violence Resource Center has four main objectives:

  • Empower the college presidents who have signed the pledge to post information about their campus events, news, and announcements related to leading discussions about America’s culture of gun violence.
  • Enable signatories to view all posted campus initiatives.
  • Provide links to speakers, gun violence research centers, news, and other information that will help college presidents design, plan, and facilitate their campus initiatives.
  • Offer a forum where signatories can communicate with one another in confidence on topics of interest.

“I believe college presidents have an obligation to show moral leadership on issues of great societal importance,” Pelton said. “Our academic communities must use their intellectual capacity to encourage intelligent, civilized, and informed debate.”

In his message, Pelton also announced his intention to host a series of panel discussions titled Made in America: Our Gun Violence Culture during the spring 2013 semester in response to his pledge to President Obama to mobilize academic communities around this issue in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

The first panel, “Whose right is it anyway?,” will focus on gun control and gun advocacy and will be held on Monday, February 4, at 6:30 pm in the Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre at Emerson’s Paramount Center in Boston.

The panel will be moderated by WGBH news anchor Emily Rooney and will include the President of Meredith Management and founder of Stop Handgun Violence John Rosenthal; Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and Director of the Institute on Race and Justice Jack McDevitt; and President of the Independent Firearm Association and author Richard Feldman.

Three additional panels will be held later in the semester:

  • The Second Amendment: What is it? What is it not?
  • Who’s to Blame? Media and Electronic Games in Gun Violence
  • The Cultural, Social, and Economic Underpinnings of American Violence


Additional initiatives designed to encourage discussion of gun violence in America at Emerson College will be announced in the coming weeks.

Biographies of participants in the first panel:

John Rosenthal is the President of Meredith Management. He is a successful real estate developer and manager in Massachusetts who has distinguished himself in his ability to balance corporate and individual responsibility. In October 1995, as a gun owner, recreational trap shooter, and businessperson, Rosenthal founded Stop Handgun Violence. The organization has been symbolized by a large 252 foot long and 20 foot high billboard that he built on the side of a parking garage that he owns along the Massachusetts Turnpike near Boston’s Fenway Park. Stop Handgun Violence was the lead advocate for Massachusetts enacting the most comprehensive gun laws and first in the nation consumer protection regulations for firearms and Massachusetts is among the top three states with the lowest firearm fatality rate (3.2 per vs. 10.6 per 100,000 population national average) in the United States. In 2005, Rosenthal co-founded a new membership organization called American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), an alternative membership organization to the NRA for moderate gun owners who care about gun rights as well as gun safety, conservation and wildlife habitat, and support for law enforcement.

Jack McDevitt is associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Northeastern University’s College of Criminal Justice. McDevitt also directs the Institute on Race and Justice and the Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research. He is the coauthor, with Jack Levin, of Hate Crimes Revisited, as well as coauthor of numerous governmental reports, including “Improving the Accuracy of Bias Crimes Statistics Nationally,” which was released by the White House in 2000. He has been teaching and conducting research at Northeastern University for nearly two decades.

Richard Feldman has dedicated the past 25 years to protecting the rights of firearms owners, marksmanship organizations, gun retailers, and firearms makers here in America and internationally. His access and advice to the highest government officials – from Presidents Reagan, to Clinton, to Obama – attests to his core conviction that Second Amendment Rights & Responsibilities benefit all society regardless of ideological beliefs. He is an attorney; a former police officer; a Reagan White House appointee; a one-time regional political director for the National Rifle Association (NRA); CEO & chief lobbyist for the Firearm Industry's national trade association; a political consultant; lecturer; and author of RICOCHET: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, published by John Wiley & Sons in October 2007. 

Emily Rooney has been host and executive editor of Greater Boston, WGBH’s local issues and public affairs program, since its debut in January 1997. The award-winning series airs Monday through Friday at 7:00 pm on WGBH 2 and at midnight on WGBH 44, providing viewers with a fresh approach to and in-depth analysis of timely news, politics, and public affairs issues of local interest. Rooney, who has received numerous journalism awards, and has been inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, is a frequent participant in journalism roundtables, sought after for her views on ethics and standards in broadcast journalism and media accountability. Each Friday she hosts Beat the Press, a discussion of what the media covered during the week, and why. These lively, critical, and sometimes controversial panel discussions earned the program the prestigious National Press Club's Author Rowse Award for Press Criticism five times. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and holds honorary doctorates from UMass Boston and Westfield State.

Steve Moysey is the director of the Gun Owners' Action League (Massachusetts NRA) and a counter-terrorism specialist.

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