Gun Safety Town Hall
A newly formed group, Our Safety, recently hosted a Gun Safety Town Hall at the 95th Street Library.
Gun violence is an issue that came close to home after the Aurora shooting back in February. And with the latest shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio it became even more of a timely topic to talk about.
That’s why the group of District 204 high school students wanted the public to learn about how gun violence can be prevented. About 200 people filled the room to voice their concerns to the panelists.
“The aim of this town hall today is not to focus on our policy or the Second Amendment or restricting the rights of those who bear arms,” said Rahul Aggarwal, founder and executive director of Our Safety. “But it’s that all these different groups, they have these different perspectives and maybe if we can bring that together and voice that to our policymakers, we could have a multi-faceted solution to keep this community, Naperville, safe.”
To begin to work on a solution, Representative Lauren Underwood, State Senator Laura Ellman, State Representative Stephanie Kifowit, Councilman Kevin Coyne, Will County Board Member Mimi Cowan, and Naperville Police Commander Bob Lee formed the panel.
“Be there, be available, and be face to face. I think that is one of the best ways to strike down and tamp down the fear and the anger that has driven so many of the people that are doing these mass shootings,” said Senator Ellman.
“This year, for the first time in decades through our appropriations process, which is how the federal level – we disperse funds to different programs. We have authorized $50 million to two programs at the federal level to study gun violence,” said Representative Underwood.
“We know that most gun owners are responsible and secure those guns because they don’t want their guns used to hurt someone. No one wants that. So, education on how to do that and how to properly secure guns would address a small part of this issue, but it is a broad and complicated issue,” said Cowan.
Listening to Both Sides
Some gun owners were in attendance as well to get their voices heard.
“I had fabulous conversations with the other side and I think they saw a rational man in me. Honesty must be honored. And that means both sides,” said attendee Tim Ball. “That’s the slogan that I hope my side carries through it. We are honest people that own guns and we need to be treated as such.”
Whether the solution is to take away guns or not, Councilman Coyne wants to understand why shootings are happening more frequently.
“What has happened in society that is leading kids to want to do this? I think that’s the tougher, maybe scarier question because these things did not start to happen until recent decades,” said Councilman Coyne.
Representative Kifowit believes starting with programs that support creating a healthy family environment will help foster productive kids.
“Things that we need to start looking at are parenting skills and trying to work on that family unit. Jobs, job security, education,” said Kifowit.
The student group, Our Safety, along with other local groups are working towards a brighter future.
“Seeing youth step up that aren’t in power yet, but in some point in the future will be is super empowering to me knowing that we are the future, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” said Peyton Arens, founder and director of March for Our Lives Naperville.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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