Additional conversations from gun violence meeting

Published 6:33 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dear Editor,

Thank you for The Advocate-Messenger coverage of the open meeting on “Responding to Gun Violence” on June 12. I would like to add a few other points that came out in the discussion.

Panelist Lynsey Sugarman, from Lexington’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, emphasized that the secure storage of guns is crucial for the safety of children to avoid serious accidents. Children and youth most often do not have an appreciation of the risk of death or the permanent harm that firearms can inflict. Moreover, a depressed or bullied teen might be temporarily suicidal but using a gun rarely allows for a second chance.  

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“Moms” also urges parents to ask whether a home is gun-secure when their child goes to a playmate’s house for the first time.

Public health researcher Karen Roper in the audience mentioned the importance of having the facts about gun violence when looking for ways to diminish the problem. Unfortunately, she said, the Dickey Amendment (a 1996 law) stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from doing research on gun violence. This law was a result of lobbying by the NRA. 

There was vocal support in the room for sound research driving solutions to problems, rather than polarizing campaigns by lobbyists.

A fact sheet circulated to participants referenced that Kentucky in 2016 had the 13th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. Though gun violence was presented as less a problem in Danville, the concern in the room was still for the size of the problems statewide and nationwide.

When I asked whether we should press the U.S. Congress or the Kentucky Legislature government for open discussions on legislation to lessen gun violence, several responded that legislation was needed both places. Someone suggested local action. However Ron Scott, Danville City Manager, clarified that Kentucky has a state law prohibiting local governments from regulating guns in any way.

Finally, there was general concern about a popular culture which has elevated violent combat in movies and video games. This is very different from the strong rural tradition of hunting and marksmanship. Some comments showed concern to identify those who pose a danger to themselves or others, while other comments suggested that community members need to reach out to people in trouble — that isolation and bullying lie behind some gun violence.

Margaret Gardiner