Civil Disagreement Series: Guns in America


Thursday, November 4, 2021, 4:00pm to 5:30pm


Zoom webinar

red poster with circular black and white photos of an Asian man in a dark hat and a broad smile, a young woman with a dark bob haircut, an older white man in a dark suit, a blonde woman in a dark jacked against a brick wall, and a white man with dark hair

Please join us for a Civil Disagreement panel on Guns in America. For some Americans, guns are seen as important for safety and self-protection. Other Americans view guns as a critical threat to those very aims. Reflecting this debate, the number of guns owned by Americans has dramatically increased in recent years, and the demographics of gun owners have shifted. For example, gun ownership among communities of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and women has risen sharply. At the same time, many people from these same communities have been calling for a new approach to community safety, which moves away from a reliance on firearms to a focus on healthcare and community building. Complicating the issue further, discussions among people with different views on gun rights and control can quickly escalate to heated arguments, evoking strong emotions like grief, fear, vulnerability, and anger.

This event brings together a range of speakers who hold differing views on guns informed by their varied experiences. Together, we will examine the issues that motivate different people’s views on gun ownership, exploring perspectives that are oftentimes overlooked. Our goal is to hold a difficult but respectful conversation that explores questions such as: Why do some people own guns and what factors have recently influenced populations with historically lower rates of gun ownership to procure them? Why do others avoid guns? Why do some favor strict regulation about what types of guns people can own and where they can use them while others hope for greater access to different types of guns and fewer restrictions in carrying them? How can Americans reconcile individual self-protection with community goals of public safety?

Please listen as Chris Cheng, Founding Board Member and Advisor of the Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association; Simone Gubler, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nevada; Maria Rivera, Mayor of Central Falls, Rhode Island; and Clark Neily, senior vice president for legal studies at the Cato Institute, come together for a panel conversation. Moderated by Christopher Robichaud (Harvard Kennedy School), this conversation will bring together policy and subject experts from different political viewpoints to discuss this pressing but divisive issue.

Click this link to register for the Guns in America panel conversation

About the speakers:

Chris Cheng is History Channel's Top Shot Season 4 Champion. He won $100,000 and a pro shooting contract with Bass Pro Shops; and is the author of the highly acclaimed book "Shoot to Win." Cheng is a self-taught amateur turned pro, and a former Google employee who brings his technology and firearms backgrounds to the outdoor space. In March 2021 Cheng testified in front of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and recently appeared on the cover of RECOIL magazine representing the LGBT and Asian communities. Top Shot Chris Cheng is an outreach and diversity advocate in the firearms industry. Cheng also held the first-of-its-kind NFT auction in the gun community which raised money for Second Amendment advocacy, diversity and inclusion. 

Simone Gubler is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nevada. Her work addresses questions in ethics, the philosophy of law, and political philosophy. Current projects deal with public forgiveness, victim impact statements in sentencing, and cancel culture. She has written for popular venues, including The New York Times, on the subject of campus carry policies and remains actively interested in America's gun culture.

Clark Neily is senior vice president for legal studies at the Cato Institute. His areas of interest include constitutional law, judicial engagement, coercive plea bargaining, police accountability, and gun rights. Neily served as co-counsel in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun. Neily received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, and he is the author of Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government.

Maria Rivera is the 33rd Mayor of Central Falls, Rhode Island. She is the first woman Mayor in city history, and first Latina Mayor in the State of Rhode Island. Prior to this role, Mayor Rivera was the top-vote getter in the 2018 election of all Central Falls City Council Candidates and became the first female and first Latino Central Falls City Council President. During her administration, Mayor Rivera is prioritizing the health and wellness of Central Falls residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with addressing the housing crisis, educational opportunities, nonviolence and safety, and other key programs supporting residents.

Moderator: Christopher Robichaud is Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Director of Pedagogical Innovation at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. He received his doctorate in philosophy from MIT. His interests surround ethics, political philosophy, and social epistemology, with a focus on examining the role of truth and knowledge in well-functioning democracies, and on understanding what the post-truth age of politcs is. Dr. Robichaud has devoted considerable energy to creating award-winning simulations that give professionals opportunities to explore ethical decision making in the context of practicing leadership skills and engaging in negotiations.