Gun Violence Reduction Forum Turns into Raucous Debate
Original post made by Jim Neal, Old Mountain View, on Feb 8, 2014
The Council chamber was filled to capacity, with many crowded into the side aisles standing. My best guess is that there were 120 to 150 people, roughly divided 60% to 40% supporters to opponents respectivel, but those are only estimates on my part.
The session started with a few speakers talking about their personal experiences with having lost loved ones in various shooting incidents, but after about 20 minutes or so when it became clear to those with opposing viewpoints that this was not going to be a dialogue, but primarily a lecture on enacting more restrictive gun laws, they began to yell out comments and demand that their voices also be heard.
Although I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, I was taken aback by the lack of civility. The fact is that the forum was organized and paid for by those in favor of more gun laws and they have every right to run the meeting in any way they see fit. It was not a City sponsored event and therefore does not have to follow the rules that would apply to a Council or Committee meeting.
However, I was also dismayed that the hosts did not choose to engage in a more inclusive process and that some of the speakers and proponents in the audience showed outright contempt for those with opposing viewpoints.
Needless to say, both sides were extremely disrespectful and I think that both sides lost an opportunity to achieve one of the stated goals of this forum which is educating the community.
I have seen the same thing on college campi, where many speakers with viewpoints or political affiliations that are unpopular, are shouted down and not permitted to speak. To me this is unacceptable. Our Republic can only continue to thrive if the exchange of ideas continues to flow unabated.
Fortunately, things never escalated to the point of physical violence. I can understand that people on both sides are very passionate and emotional about this issue, but we need to maintain control of ourselves at all times and treat each other as we would like to be treated.
After the forum, I stayed behind to talk with people whose views were in opposition to my own and we had very pleasant conversations. While I do not think that we were able to change each other's minds, I made it very clear that I am always open to discussing any subject about matters that affect our city with anyone; and that they can feel free to contact me about their concerns and I will listen.
Old Mountain View
Candidate, Mountain View City Council