Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Panel Discussion on Gun Violence: The Eugene City Club

Back on Friday, June 14, I was proud to join a panel discussion on gun violence, hosted by the City Club of Eugene, entitled "Finding Common Ground on Gun Control."  Coincidentally, this was the beginning of Father's Day weekend and the 6-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The City Club regularly hosts speakers on a wide range of important topics, with professionals and politicians across the board.  So it was a great honor when they asked me to join them in this discussion.

I felt it was a very balanced discussion, with a local medical professional (Dr. Patrick Luedtke) to talk about statistics and the public health angle on the issue of gun violence, a local NRA member and essayist for gun rights and gun safety (Peter Loewy), and myself (Baldr Odinson), representing gun violence prevention efforts and concerns.

As written in the City Club's notice for the event:
Dr. Patrick Luedtke will present data on Lane County and Oregon firearm injuries and deaths and make general recommendations based on a public health approach to injury prevention. He is a Preventive Medicine and Internal Medicine physician. He is the Medical Director of Lane County’s Community & Behavioral Health clinics and the Senior Public Health Officer for the County. 
Peter Loewy will talk about creating a national movement to reduce the number of gun-related deaths and injuries without further infringing on Second Amendment rights. He is an NRA member and retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who directed air traffic control towers and radar facilities. His letters and columns have recently been published in the Register-Guard
Baldr Odinson will focus on the broad, bipartisan support for universal background checks, proficiency training, child access protection laws, and waiting periods for gun purchases. He survived a shooting in his youth and now works to reduce gun violence through community action. Odinson is a blogger and Eugene’s point person for Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.
Dr. Luedtke gave some excellent statistics around the issue, including at the local, state, and national level, and stressed the need for safe gun storage and suicide prevention.

Peter Loewy is what I consider a mainstream NRA member and gun owner.  He is very much for universal background checks, safe storage of guns, and technology for tracing guns outside of government purview.  Here is a recent essay of his in the local newspaper.

The discussion was in four parts.  The first three parts were 10-minute presentations by each of the three speakers.  The fourth part was a Q&A session by City Club members, answered by the speakers.  Here is a brief news write-up of the event.

I would like to extend a thank-you to the City Club for hosting the event, and to the other speakers for taking part.

Here is audio of the full event, via KLCC radio.  

See below for video of each of the four parts, as posted by the City Club on YouTube, along with an excerpt that I appreciated most.

Dr. Patrick Luedtke:
Selected quote:  "I think overall we would agree that knowledge is power in training providers and the general public to recognize warning signs of suicide and homicide, something we've done for some years, is an evidence-based practice and helpful, but we also need to train gun owners to keep firearms from at-risk persons and we need to stress safe gun storage practices and each effective and practical steps that can be taken to save lives, reduce injuries, and prevent heartache."

Peter Loewy:
Selected quote:  "[A]n effective gun violence reduction program would embrace a very narrowly-defined goal to which most if not all parties can and will agree.  And that would be significantly reduce incidents of gun-related injuries, fatalities, and crime. Then, determine an equally-narrow approach that will effectively make firearms less available to those people who should not have access to them without infringing on Second Amendment rights. That would be, promote the secure, safe storage of firearms and ammunition when not in use. Thirdly, craft a working definition of what constitutes safe and secure storage of firearms and ammunition. And, finally (and this is the kicker), enlist the National Rifle Association, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and their allied associations to use their resources to start a grass-roots movement to increase and make nearly-universal the practice of securely storing firearms and ammunition when not in use."

Baldr Odinson:
Selected quote:  "Across the nation there are... around 3,000 children killed every year at the end of a bullet in suicides, homicides, and accidents. Another 14,000 or so are injured.... This is a very serious public health crisis. This is how we view it at Ceasefire Oregon and how I view it. More needs to be done to reduce those numbers. If that many children were killed by anything else it seems to me like there would be a massive public outrage, and yet, somehow, when it's a gun involved, we just write it off as 'Well, that's just how it goes in America.' and we can't do that anymore. We just can't."

Q&A session:
Selected question and answer: 
Question (directed at Baldr): "There are numerous quotes from the Founders that provide many gun enthusiasts with a mentality much like the Founders which is one from freedom from government, tyranny, and oppression. My question to you is, Do you feel like the time to fear government tyranny is over, or should we always maintain and foster an atmosphere of vigilance." 
Answer (from Baldr):  "Luckily we have a turnover of the government every four years, legally and non-violently, with checks and balances, too. Article III section iii of the Constitution specifically says that it is the militia's duty to prevent insurrection. So the Founders did not write into the Constitution the ability to overthrow them. Rather, they put in checks and balances. ..."

Our society needs more conversations like these.  Let's all take part.