Local officials, residents debate gun violence

Community leaders shot from the hip Thursday night during a community conversation about guns.
Alex Doty
Mar 22, 2013

The event was designed to foster a civil discussion among those holding divergent views on gun violence, and its causes and possible solutions, in the wake of events such as the Sandy Hook school shooting late last year.

“This is an exercise in participatory democracy, and it makes me feel wonderful,” said Devin Schindler, a Cooley Law School professor. “It is our duty to be actively engaged in the process of self-government.”

Schindler, who addressed the more than 100 people attending the forum at the Grand Haven Community Center, said the language of the Second Amendment has room for ambiguity.

“Is this a state’s rights issue or a personal freedom issue?” Schindler asked.

Steve Dulan, of the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, answered that question.

“Our position is that gun ownership is a fundamental right, it’s protected by law, and it is a good idea,” he said. “I grew up in the U.P. and my dad owned a gun shop. I’ve been shooting since I was a little kid, and it was shocking to me that people wanted to take our guns away.”

Former state Sen. Wayne Kuipers viewed gun ownership in a similar light.

“I think that people have a fundamental right to gun ownership,” he said. “You don’t have a right to a car, you don’t have a right to a home, but you have the right to a gun.”

Kuipers said there would need to be a really good reason for gun ownership to be limited.

Joining in the discussion were Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz; Dr. Lia Gaggino, a Kalamazoo pediatrician and president of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Keith Konarska, superintendent of Grand Haven Area Public Schools; and Jane Longstreet of Ottawa County Community Mental Health.

Frantz said the prevalence for gun violence in Ottawa County is relatively low.

“We have a great community with low crime and low gun violence,” he said. “We’ve found a way to behave in a civil manner without much violence.”

Despite this low rate, Frantz said that there have been violent actions in the community that involved guns and violence that didn’t involve guns. He also pointed out gang activity in the Holland area includes use of firearms.

In addition to the criminal component, Longstreet pointed out how it is important to make sure that the mental health aspect of gun violence and gun control is addressed.

“In my line of work, we’re concerned with helping people stay alive,” she said. “There’s a great correlation between the availability of guns and the completion of suicide.”

Longstreet noted that her agency works with victims and survivors of suicide, and also works to make sure residents' mental health needs are addressed. She favors a more restricted access to guns.

“We need to do everything we can to provide access to mental health treatment to those who need it,” she said. “People with mental illness are often marginalized, stigmatized, and they’re discriminated against.”

Panelists also discussed the impacts of guns on children.

“Obviously, the safety of our children is a top priority for all of us,” Konarska said. “We’re fortunate we haven’t had any guns in our schools, and we hope that continues.”

There is a police officer stationed at Grand Haven High School, and officers also spend time at other schools in the district.

“Their presence is not all-day, every day — but it is frequent enough that they are visible,” Konarska said. “That’s gone a long way in helping our families feel safe and secure in our buildings.”

When asked whether he thought more should be done to promote school safety, Konarska said he felt current measures went a good distance.

“I’d hate for our schools to become lock-down facilities and create the appearance of a prison-type setting,” he said.

 

Comments

Peter56

Lawyers are the problem.

sirhansalot

When is the last time Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz was in court fighting a case? He never is he just pleas deals all cases because he is lazy.

jayceeranger

Steve Dulan was really the only knowledgeable speaker, added as a panelist in less than 48 hrs after three others smelled a rat and backed out, not wanting to be used as a token to give the perception of diversity. Steve's name was not released because they didn't want him to know the deck was stacked against him.

Pre selected, friendly questions to Gagino, Franz and Longstreet allowed them to present prepared speeches while Dulan and Kuipers were given generic questions, (even slightly confrontational). Unlike a town hall style format Dulan and Kuipers were not give the opportunity to challenge the so called "facts" cited by Gagino and Longstreet, nor given the opportunity to talk about the millions of events where armed citizens prevent crime but go unreported because no bullets are fired.

In Gagino we have the president of an organization which is outspoken in their views to disarm law abiding citizens and she doesn't know the difference between an automatic and semi automatic weapon.

I'm guessing a great many more gun rights advocates were in the audience. Despite this, Kaminski and his group were able to control the presentation and give the illusion to the press that it was all make nice. Worse, the assigned seating insured at least one gun grabber was placed at each table skewing the results of recommendations provided by each table.

Channel 13 covered the program and called it a "novel new idea" cooked up by Kaminski and friend. In reality it is a national, well funded program and we're going to see more of these from the left on guns and other issues.

There is a link to a group called, "National Coalition for Dialogue and Discussion" based in Massachusettes and a 60 page manual on how to orchestrate a phony consensus manufacturing technique.

sirhansalot

well done great point.

Wingmaster

Wow, Nicely done Jay...I'm interested to hear the left spin next to your interpetation.

Would be very interesting to follow the money trail on this one. Seems to me the reason for this little meeting in Grand Haven in a "low gun crime area" is a little suspicious.

bigdeal

"Frantz said the prevalence for gun violence in Ottawa County is relatively low.

“We have a great community with low crime and low gun violence,” he said. “We’ve found a way to behave in a civil manner without much violence.”

Despite this low rate, Frantz said that there have been violent actions in the community that involved guns and violence that didn’t involve guns. He also pointed out gang activity in the Holland area includes use of firearms."

The one hot spot in Ottawa County mentioned is where there is diversity? The rest of us act in a civilized manner :) So why the cry for more in GH from some if this is what follows diversity?

gordbzz231

this gun or weapon regulation has exploded in this past year, you can take all of the guns away from us and close all the gun dealers down, more unemployment, i dont see how regulation is going to decrease violence, did they catch the persons that stole guns and amino from felix gun shop in robinson township seems they get broken in to twice a year, this is just example how many places get broken in to anywhere, criminals don't care about gun control, then you have people that are of not in there right mind and they are on meds to control this, maybe this week they decide not to take their meds, i recently had a conversation with someone and he got mad because i said something he didnt like, he texted me on my cell fone, he said, dont mess with his bipolar, i just laughed, but that type of situation could get ugly, he has guns in his house and not afraid to use them, just saying, have a good day

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