‘Hear us out’

PUHI — Kauai college students believe gun control is one of the biggest issues facing the presidential candidates.

“No one wants their rights taken away, but there needs to be some kind of standard that we need to hold up to,” said Sara Touchet, a student at Kauai Community College.

Vanessa Visitacion, a 20-year-old KCC student, agrees.

“With all the gun violence, (legislators) should be stricter on guns,” she said. “I don’t necessarily say they should be banned, but there should be (stricter laws) on who should have guns.”

Students across the nation say education matters most when it comes to picking the next president. But there’s a wide split in what else will drive their votes.

For African-American adults between the ages of 18 and 30, racism is nearly as important as education. For young Hispanics, it’s immigration. And for whites and Asian-Americans in the millennial generation, it’s economic growth.

According to the new GenForward poll, a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, young African- Americans are significantly more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to say racism is a top issue when it comes to choosing a candidate for president. A third of blacks between 18 and 30 chose racism as one of the top issues that will affect their votes, nearly tied with education and ahead of both health care and economic growth.

In the poll, 8 in 10 young African-Americans called racism a major problem. They were joined by 3 in 4 young Hispanics, more than 3 in 5 Asian-Americans and a little more than half of young whites.

The poll was taken before last week’s slayings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two black men whose deaths were captured on video, and the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas that followed. Before the gunman in Dallas was killed, he said he wanted revenge for the killings of blacks by police.

Touchet believes the government should take measures to better document who is buying guns.

“I’ve owned multiple weapons that were never registered in my name, because it wasn’t required,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that go and buy a gun and never fired a weapon before. So a main concern of mine would be documenting who owns what? How did you get this weapon?”

While Touchet, 25, admits there is no way to reduce mass shootings, implementing ways to regulate gun ownership is a step in the right direction.

It is too easy for people to get guns, said 19-year-old Jamie Amimoto, a student at Marymount California University who is back on Kauai for the summer.

“My main concern swith gun control are that people able to get them,” he said. “If you go to a gun show, there’s no restrictions at all. You can just buy from a gun show from anyone.”

Homelessness and free education are other concerns for students on Kauai.

Rose Linscheid, 21, believes neither presidential candidate highlights the homeless problem.

“We need our leaders to talk about welfare so they can get jobs,” she said.

Free education is important, said Elizabeth Makizuru, who is hoping to attend KCC in the fall.

“You go to school, hoping to get an education to have a good life, but then you go into debt, so you can’t have the life you dreamed of having,” she said.

Amimoto agreed.

“College is really expensive, so free college education (for) community colleges is important,” he said.

Race and Native Hawaiian rights is a key issue for some voters.

“I’ve been into my culture since I was little,” said Hauoli Kaleokalani. “I care about the Hawaiians on this land.”

Kaleokalani, 17, will be enrolling at KCC in the fall. She said some of her family’s land on the Big Island is being taken away.

“We try to have freedom of speech but the police don’t hear us out,” she said. “It hurts because we’re just trying to get people to hear us out.”

The poll of 1,965 adults age 18-30 was conducted June 14-27 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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