Talk at League of Women Voters forum in Oakland centers on guns
By Megan Harris
Published: Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Nearly 80 people weighed the merits of enhanced education courses, extended hours for schools and community centers, an increased police presence and stronger legislation as part of a gun safety forum in Oakland on Sunday.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, “Gun Safety in a Free Society” brought together community members, business owners and students on both sides of the gun lobby, said Robert Cavalier, co-director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Program for Deliberative Democracy at Carnegie Mellon University.
Cavalier likened the event, held at Rodef Shalom, to a town hall meeting, encouraging discourse in small groups guided by trained moderators. Each group discussed the topics and posed questions to a panel of experts, ultimately sharing their takeaway in a post-forum survey.
“Gun safety is an issue that will naturally get some people riled up,” Cavalier said, “and that's fine. We wanted all our participants to help inform and direct the opinions of their group, so long as no one is dominating.”
Moderators asked about safe communities and what people can do to promote that sense of area-wide well-being.
“I don't feel comfortable outside after midnight,” said CMU freshman Jason Baik. “We get alerts from campus police about robberies a lot more than I feel like we should.”
Baik, a Canadian citizen, said he came to the event to learn more about guns in American culture.
“Guns are not as problematic there as they are in the U.S.,” he said. “It's important to understand another perspective.”
Across the room, Ron Boocks, 67, of Peters shared with his group accounts of stolen firearms and attempted crimes. As a retired government employee, he said he's dealt with as many ignorant police officers as he has gun owners and opponents.
“We need to understand our own laws better and enforce what we've already got on the books,” Boocks said.
Nancy Naragon, vice president of the League of Women Voters' board of directors, said the organization tried to recruit diverse participants from a variety of ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“It's so hard to talk about contentious issues,” she said, “but if you can get past the biases and slogans, you often find there's a lot of common ground.”
Cavalier said results from the event's survey will be analyzed and compared to previous responses for a study to be released by CMU in March.
“We're not pretending this will yield robust, statistical data, but we are curious whether this forum model can change the opinion, even slightly, of an informed audience,” he said.
Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Postal Service pays $180K for unopened site
- Allegheny County Democrats endorse several incumbents in primary
- Western Pennsylvania organizations team to find housing for vets
- Context key to 2nd trial of Pittsburgh police officers in Homewood man’s arrest
- Ailing Downtown August Wilson Center awaits rescue; no real estate offers yet
- Newsmaker: Dr. Yoel Sadovsky
- Photo gallery: Swing for a Cure
- Trib’s Hiel honored for reporting on Coptic Christians
- Western Psychiatric clinic rampage victim’s parents seek answers, lawyer says
- Newsmaker: Jack Goodrich