By Casey Welsch
July 12, 2018
An increasingly divided America seems to have split into mutually irreconcilable camps regarding gun control, rights and safety. Party politics and political ideology separate even sloe family members, and discussions and debates about guns often descend into ineffectual shouting matches that only serve to deepen the divide. Monty Stokes, event coordinator at Indigo Bridge bookstore, hoped to change that, and brought together a group of three ideologically diverse individuals to attempt a rational discussion of gun safety topics. Not gun control, not gun rights, but gun safety.
The public forum drew a small but engaged crowd to hear debate and discussion by the three-person panel. Panelists were local author Nils McConnell; Nebraskans Against Gun Violence Vice President Melody Vaccaro; and Thunder Alley Indoor Shooting Range co-owner Cruze Lauer. The panelists spoke for nearly two hours on topics including law and legislation, training and education, technology and responsibility, and several other topics relating to gun safety.
The panelists took multiple questions from the crowd, most of whom seemed genuinely interested in learning all they could about all aspects of gun safety from all sides of the ideological spectrum. Generally speaking, McConnell favored better enforcement of existing gun laws; Vaccaro favored more and/or stricter local gun regulation; and Lauer favored better quality and availability of gun safety education for the public.
There were the expected disagreements, especially between Vacarro and Lauer, but at no point did the discussion turn sour or antagonistic. All three panelists and most of the crowd remained civil for the entire forum. There were even some points of agreement, notably when Vacarro proposed better access to better information regarding gun laws in different communities, to help the traveling gun owner navigate the tapestry of local and state regulations that currently exists as national gun law. Lauer agreed with the sentiment.
The entire public forum, with minimal editing to smooth out the beginning and end of the discussion, is presented here for public listening and sharing.
Casey Welsch is the host of KZUM News.