Thursday, June 22, 2023

A Civilized Panel Discussion

I live in the amazing community of Vail where the Vail Symposium that deals with the issues of the day has been in existence for more than fifty years.

Lately we have been blessed to have several visits to the Symposium by the Jeffersonian historian and humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson who specializes in moderating panels on hot button issues.

Last night I attended one on gun control that surpassed any of the past discussions in its ability to make the entire audience learn in a civilized manner how to address the issue. Mr. Jenkinson skillfully, methodically and with humor helped us all delve deeply into the issue. 

In between a series of videos and slides, Mr. Jenkinson first gave the audience some context for the discussion and then introduced two panelists, Joshua Horwitz, a professor of gun violence and advocacy at Johns Hopkins University and David Yamane, a professor of sociology at Wake Forest University to address the issues of this complex problem. Professor Horwitz looked at the subject from a public health standpoint, whereas Professor Yamane tended to look at the American culture psyche to address the issues.  

When Professor Horwitz was asked why, if more than 80 percent of the public wants some legislation, it never gets done, he reinforced the idea that legislation has a lot of complex problems and that, despite the public's desires, within our system, the minority can still rule. 

At the end, both professors were asked to list their number one priorities for making progress. Professor Horwitz advocated for a national law that required gun owners to have a license. Professor Yamane emphasized community education. 

Even though I think we need both, I think we should start with a requirement that every gun owner have a license before he can purchase a gun. As Professor Horwitz maintained, it's a public health issue that affects us all and though there will be gun owners who still commit mass murders, it's a start that evidence has shown can curb the problem. There will always be people who break the law, but this effort would be a great start.

In most controversial cases, I advocate compromise, but this time I'm going all out for licensing. Professor Horwitz had statistics to show that licensing works, and I don't really think those in favor of the second amendment could object to this. 

Write your congressmen if you agree. We all need to become involved!

Mimi Pockross is an award-winning author who specializes in the topics of the arts, education, and family.

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