Sunday, April 3, 2016

Forum on gun violence

I went to a forum on gun violence.  It wasn't exactly what I hoped.  But I also knew from experience that if I go to things that aren't exactly right for me, they can lead me to the things that are a better fit for me.  I've seen how most of the things that were enough of a fit that I stayed involved for some time were things that I got connected to because of being involved in something else.

So it was a forum on gun violence.  I didn't like that three of the four speakers were from outside.  They had no idea about our community.  They have their own agenda.  They want cities to pass gun safety laws, so they visit cities and give talks.  I am not so interested in gun safety, because I don't like guns at all.  What I was looking for was for our community to come together to talk about what we can do to prevent violence within our community.

The first speaker, Leah Gunn Barrett, talked about advocating for gun safety legislation.  That is not my interest.  And she had no idea who we are as a community.  I felt like she was a privileged white woman who didn't want anyone to shoot her family, but she didn't know or care about the suffering of people in inner city communities, as long as they stay away from her.

The second speaker's cause is domestic violence, and because this was a gun violence forum, he tried to express how preventing domestic violence relates to preventing gun violence.  He was not great at articulating his thoughts.  He kind of rambled around the point rather than actually stating the point.  I think he had two good points, though he did not make them very well:  1) A lot of gun violence is domestic violence, so if you reduce domestic violence, you reduce gun violence.  2) Children who grow up with domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect grow up to have many negative things in their lives, including that they may become perpetrators of violence.

He talked briefly about the topic of his book, The Quincy Solution.  He said in Quincy, they found that most people in the prison had experienced domestic violence and/or child abuse when they were children.  Therefore, they cracked down on domestic violence as a way of reducing crime.  This is where my interest lies: to give everyone a good childhood so that they are not inclined to turn to crime.

Like the first speaker, at times he seemed to view violence as a cause, to not see the toll on humans.  This was how it came across when he was saying that the problems with violence are good because it creates an opportunity to make a change.

Overall though, he came across as someone who really cares about domestic violence.  At the end of his speech, he talked about how there's a song about the integration of baseball that asks how many great baseball players did we miss because of segregation.  He applies this idea to domestic violence, saying how sad it is that our society is missing out on the contributions that would have been made, had people not been affected by domestic violence.  It was clumsily expressed, but it was very heartfelt.

I don't recall the name of the third speaker.  She spoke about suicide.  She said that many people who attempt suicide change their minds, but suicide by gun is the most effective method, and doesn't leave room to change your mind.  She spoke of a woman who survived suicide by gun, but blew off half her face.  This woman has become an advocate, speaking out about her experience.

The fourth speaker was our police chief.  I liked that he actually is from our community.  He said that what we've been doing hasn't been working, and that research has found that a public health approach works.  He mentioned the Cure Violence program, and pointed out someone from that program.  That prompted the moderators to confer and then invite the Cure Violence guy to speak for a bit about that program.  To me, that was the best part.  That was someone in our community doing something to prevent violence. 

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