The Citizens Who Care forum Tuesday night at Town Hall was advertised as an opportunity to talk about preventing gun violence but instead it showcased how difficult it is in the U.S. today to have a calm discussion about guns.
Representatives from the R.I. Coalition Against Gun Violence presented information about bills they hope to introduce in the General Assembly to limit the number of rounds a gun can hold to 10 and to prohibit ordinary citizens from bringing guns into schools.
For them, it’s about making schools safer.
For the large majority of those attending the Tuesday forum, however, it’s about locking up criminals.
For those from the coalition, it’s about common sense gun laws.
For those who like guns and consider it their right, it was about making sure prohibitions on guns were not passed into law.
The two sides may not be complete polar opposites, but it sure made for some heated exchanges Tuesday night. So much so that input from guest speaker Wendy Bowen, former Newtown, Conn., high school teacher, about steps that could be taken to help students with mental health issues was largely ignored.
“We have to take a real honest look at the role of guns in our society,” said East Greenwich drug counselor Bob Houghtaling afterwards. “There’s a lot of feelings, a lot of emotion. But for the average person, we want our schools to be safe and our families to be safe.”