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Politicos Find Agreement During Debate

February 01, 2011

Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in Fromm Hall on the USF campus Jan. 27 for a debate between two former congressmen, California Democratic Party Chairman and USF School of Law alumnus John Burton and former Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Bob Barr.

Moderated by Federalist Society President Michael Brown 3L, the discussion between Burton and Barr centered on what Democrats, Tea Partiers, and Libertarians have in common.

On medical marijuana, Burton said it has always been an issue the Democrats have supported. Barr said the Tea Party seems to have distanced itself from the debate on this and other social issues, although the Libertarians would agree with the Democrats, reasoning that this is not an appropriate area for government to regulate.

Their views also overlapped on national defense spending. “It is a waste of resources when we engage in nation-building exercises,” Barr said, echoing Burton’s opinion on the value of the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

When it came to gun control and the 2nd Amendment, however, the two found little to agree upon. Although Burton favors strict gun control laws, he said it would be so difficult to enforce that the more important policy question relating to guns is safety issues. Barr said “you’re dealing with a fundamental human need or desire to defend oneself.” Still, he said some take that to the extreme by arguing for the right to possess weapons beyond a pistol or rifle, such as a semi-automatic weapon.

The event was sponsored by the USF School of Law Federalist Society.