Young Americans for Freedom Brings Ken Stiles to Talk the Second Amendment

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By: Wesley Wallace | wwallace5@radford.edu

Radford University’s Young Americans for Freedom hosted a Second Amendment forum Wednesday, Oct. 9, in McGuffey Hall. The forum aimed to educate students on the importance of the Second Amendment and their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Kenneth Stiles, who is a geography professor at Virginia Tech, was the featured guest speaker at the event.

In addition to teaching at Virginia Tech, Professor Stiles is a retired CIA officer. While at the CIA, he worked in espionage activities, covert operations, and US policymaker support. In 2013, he received the Career Commendation Medal for his work.

According to the US Constitution, the Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This means that American citizens have the right to possess a firearm for self-defense. 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Given the country’s current political climate, there have been multiple debates among Democrats and Republicans surrounding gun reform, including the outlawing of semi-automatic weaponry.

The Tartan asked Professor Stiles questions via email about common misconceptions of assault rifles and what the Second Amendment means to him. 

Professor Stiles said, “The Second Amendment provides American citizens the ability to defend themselves, their families, and their property from a number of threats – criminal as well as an over-reaching government. We’ve seen examples of the latter throughout our history, specifically with Hurricane Katrina. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans police began confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens prior to the police deserting their posts.”

He continued, “A law was later passed prohibiting such confiscations. The CDC has determined that law-abiding citizens use firearms in self-defense between 500,000 to 2 million times a year.”

second amendment
Photo Credit: (Wesley Wallace) Former CIA operative Ken Stiles spoke about Second Amendment rights at the Forum.

This statistic comes from a 2013 survey by the CDC, which placed the estimate at 500,000 to 3 million a year, although the numbers are disputed. The 3 million figure comes from an extrapolation based on a small number of responses in 19 national surveys, and some estimates place the number as low as 108,000 defensive uses per year.  

We asked Professor Stiles about some common misconceptions surrounding assault rifles.

He said, “Where do I start? ‘Assault Rifles,’ ‘High Capacity’ magazines, ‘Silencers’ ‘Weapons of War’ are some of the most egregious terms commonly and consistently misused. Many people, especially politicians and news media, have little knowledge of firearms and fail to do their research. The best example would have to be the original 1994 ‘Clinton Assault Weapons Ban’ bill.”

“‘Assault Rifles,’ ‘High Capacity’ magazines, ‘Silencers’ ‘Weapons of War’ are some of the most egregious terms commonly and consistently misused.”

That bill, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, passed in 1994 with bipartisan support and expired in 2004. Since then, there have been numerous calls for another assault weapons ban, but critics believe it was too restrictive of Second Amendment freedoms. 

“One of the features that put a rifle on the ban list was a magazine which held more than ten rounds of ammunition. This requirement classified the Henry repeating fire rifle as a forbidden firearm because it held 15 rounds. In my opinion, this was pretty idiotic,” he said.

The Tartan ended asking Professor Stiles whether or not gun reform will play a crucial role in the 2020 presidential election. 

He said, “That’s a good question. Given the current focus in both the media and Congress on impeaching the President, I believe this and many other important issues such as immigration reform, infrastructure, drug pricing, USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), etc. will be pushed aside over the next year.”

For more University news, stay connected with your Tartan newspaper.

Photo Credit: (Wesley Wallace – The Tartan)

Featured Image: L&R – Richard Tisinger, Nicholas Brozovic, Katlyn Wilson, Ben Brassard, Haleigh Williams, Charles Frazier, Colin Tucker, Ken Stiles, Timothy Campbell, Hunter Cole, Thorn Harrison and John Magee.

Wesley Wallace

Wesley Wallace is a Sophomore student at Radford University. He aims to acquire his Bachelor of Science in Theatre with a minor in entrepreneurship. In addition to writing for the Tartan, he previously served as the Campus Relations Chair for Radford's NAACP and maintains a student conduct board position within Radford's Office of Student Standards & Conduct.