Sandy Hook inspires gun control forum at the Castro Valley Library

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary is still prompting discussions about gun control. One such talk was held on Feb. 10 at the Castro Valley library.
The gun control forum, sponsored by Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church, contained five panelists and a moderator. Each of the five speakers took turns expressing their views on gun control or issues related to firearms.
The first speaker was Alex Kobayashi, the district director from the office of California State Senator Ellen Corbett. As the most politically involved panelist, Kobayashi expanded upon current firearms laws and new proposals and bills concerning firearms. One such bill was AB202 proposed by Assembly Member Tim Donnelly, stating that some school funds may be used to train school marshals in the use of firearms.
The second speaker was Tony Shah, the director of student services of the Castro Valley Unified School District. Like Kobayashi, he was not so concerned with the pro-gun/anti-gun argument as he was with school safety. He stressed the schools’ increased efforts to increase crisis training for the staff and the district’s efforts to reduce bullying in schools.

Shah did not support hiring more officers to patrol campuses, nor did he support the training of marshals in the use of firearms. He advocated hiring more school counselors than armed policemen, arguing that counselors were “a more proactive approach” to the problem of violence in schools.

 The third speaker was Darryl Ray, a self-labeled “gun owner, church goer, and moderate liberal.” His overall message was that he supported more regulations, but not to the point where they become unreasonable and stifling. He did not support banning certain firearms versus others and did not support gun registration being used as public information. However, Ray stressed his willingness to work together with those of different views in creating new gun control laws.

“We need to try and understand the different views and work together,” he said with conviction. Members of the audience bobbed their heads in support.

 The fourth speaker was Griffin Dix, the co-president of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, as well as a holder of a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. Dix talked about a wide array of statistics that claimed that more gun control led to less gun violence. Much of the audience seemed to hold different degrees of disdain or support for him because of his insistence on gun control. He especially supported closing loopholes in current laws.
The fifth and final speaker was the only woman on the panel, Lorrain Taylor. She was the strongest and most charismatic of the panelists, speaking in a strong, clear voice and using her personal experiences to  bolster her anti-gun agenda. She is the founder of 1000 Mothers to Prevent Violence, an organization focused on decreasing gun violence, especially against children.

She supported gun education, gun dealers trained to detect those with mental illness, prevention of criminal use of firearms, and the closing of loopholes in the gun laws. She was met with some titters from the audience but garnered support for her main intent of protecting children.

“Whatever it takes to save lives and kids,” she ended passionately.

 Although not a rousing success with the younger generation (the audience was made up mostly of the middle-aged), the forum was nonetheless interesting. Even though most of the panelists held the same position on gun control, they had different variations and reasons for supporting their positions, and the audience reacted to them more commonly than not with mumbled snarky comments and huffs of disapproval.

They were allowed to ask questions after the speakers had shared their views, and the forum officially ended when the audience was given the opportunity to sign different petitions and proposals concerning gun control online.


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