A Smart Conversation about Guns

Lisa Wogan

Last night, Town Hall hosted a forum on gun violence that didn’t devolve into a shouting match and included only one mention of Ann Coulter.

Entitled “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis,” this first of three February civic forums was an evidence-based look at the patterns, impact and cost of gun-related “unintentional” deaths, suicide and homicide. Steered by a panel of public health officials and doctors and steeped in verifiable studies and facts (which is no mean feat considering Congress de-funded CDC research into firearm injuries in 1996), the forum provided a rare opportunity to examine the staggering impact of gun violence and a present a wide range of solutions—even before getting to the controversial topic of an assault-weapons ban.

Interestingly, the most polarizing figure of the night was city councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who served as a reminder of how difficult it will be to transfer informed, rational conversation on this topic into the arena of political action.

Town Hall, which continues to function as our region’s civic heart, will host two more forums this month: Exploring Coal Train Proposals (Wednesday, Feb. 13) and 2013 Urban Poverty Forum focusing on Pacific Northwest Tribal Poverty (Sunday, February 13).