Gun Safety Forum Turns Confrontational

by | Mar 31, 2015


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.”


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April 1, 2015 12:36 pm

I appreciate the opportunity to speak with those who attended the meeting last night. I regret that some (not all) attendees seem intent upon viewing our (the RICAGV) gun violence protection work as tantamount to “gun grabbing”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We don’t see you as opponents but rather prospective allies in problem-solving on the issues of inappropriate access and misuse of firearms and hope, with more opportunities like last night, you will come to see us in this same way.

Consider the following, very unfortunate, case that took place in NH just 2 days ago. (see link below) With over 30 thousand firearm death per year, we have an epidemic of gun violence in our country. It’s not as simple as “law abiding citizens” versus inner city “criminals”. There are cases like the one in this article that happen every day. RI is not immune from gun violence. Though we hoped to talk about guns in schools, the focus turned to another worthy subject -the DV bill supported by RICAGV (H5872, stamped by the AG and sponsored by Rep. Greg Amore). Since we are on the subject, it’s important to know that DV assaults involving a firearm are 12X more likely to result in a death that those involving other weapons or bodily force. DV firearm death are not limited to the target. Regrettably, bystanders, especially children are also at risk. In RI, every child who has been killed in a DV scenario, has been killed by a firearm and every case where two or more persons killed in a DV situation were killed by a firearm. When a knife is used, usually its “just” the target who dies.

It’s easy to sit back and be a critic – like coming up with extreme applications of the above DV bill. How is that truly helping to solve the problem of firearms used in domestic violence cases (or child access to firearms or keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people as the case may be)? There were some very thoughtful and motivated people on the pro-gun side of the room last night. We invite them to to try a different tact in helping us solve problems like the domestic violence one made obvious in the following article. Julia Wyman, RICAGV

April 2, 2015 8:37 pm

felons, domestic abusers, mentally ill, drug abusers, ect are already prohibited by federal and RI law to posses firearms and since RI conducts federal background checks the problem is already solved for you. and no matter. background checks only tell what has already been done or not done. nothing for the future. and if you want to start with some pre-crime crap you’re coming up on a slippery slope that is rather scary. leave our elected officials alone and stop wasting tax payer money by bothering them with stuff that already exists. please. they are good enough alone wasting our money.


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