Newtown tragedy: Meeting will address, ‘What can we do?’

Following the tragedy at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman on Dec. 14, 2012, many asked, “What can we do?”

It is this question that prompted several Redding residents to organize “an informational meeting on more effective gun laws.” The meeting is set for next Monday, Jan. 14, at the Redding Community Center from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

“This is intended as an informational program and not a debate on gun control,” said Margi Esten, one of the organizers. The meeting is for people “who want to see positive change. We’re not there to debate the laws in the Constitution,” she said.

The point of the discussion is, “What can be done to keep our children safe?” Ms. Esten said. There will be information “on how to affect the process.”

When helping to organize the event, she turned to her friend Saul Cornell Ph.D. of Redding, one of the nation’s leading legal scholars and an expert on the history of gun regulation. Professor Cornell will provide information and moderate the discussion. Dr. Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University. He is the author of A Well-Regulated Militia: the Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (2006).

“How in the aftermath of Newtown can we talk about this problem in a more productive way, and what positive steps can be taken to make us all safer?” is a question he will address.

He will talk about the current state of research on the problem of gun violence and gun violence prevention.

“I’m going to try to explain how we got to our current situation and how we arrived at the current impasse,” Dr. Cornell said. He will also speak about moving forward in a practical way “and what sorts of practical solutions are available to help us make our community safer.”

He will provide a brief overview of the current political and legal tools available “to achieve meaningful reductions in the levels of gun violence in our society.”

“This not a partisan event,” said Dr. Cornell. “It is a brief overview of current policy options that are available.” After a brief presentation there will be an extended question-and-answer session.”

“We have organized what we hope will be a meaningful discussion to educate ourselves and our fellow Redding residents about the Second Amendment and the history of gun regulation, as well as to talk about how to work against gun violence in Connecticut,” said Heather Whaley, another organizer.

“Everyone is welcome and we value all opinions. We are not looking to outlaw guns or overturn the Second Amendment — rather, we are looking to come up with some reasonable, commonsense steps we can all take to reduce gun violence.”

Besides Ms. Esten and Ms. Whaley, along with Dr. Cornell, the other organizers of the meeting are Posie Morgan, Lestina Trainor and Mary Ann Carman. The organizers stressed the meeting is not sponsored by any organization.

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