Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. However, if you are concerned about the amount of gun violence in our society, school safety as it relates to gun violence, or the number of people walking around with weapons, concealed or otherwise, it's an excellent organization to join or at least follow on Facebook.
Last night I attended a village board meeting in Niles at which they planned to discuss a potential gun shop and gun range in an industrial area, an industrial area that also houses family-friendly attractions including one of those trampoline spots, a volleyball facility that hosts youth teams, and an alternative school. In fact, the proposed facility would be just 1,000 feet from the school, which serves kids 11-21 years old who "withdraw socially and emotionally, have difficulty with social skills, and have difficulty fitting in."
The proposed facility would also be within "walking distance" of three other schools.
Any red flags for you or is it just me?
The room was packed with folks on both sides of the issue, but before anybody got a word in. The village trustees voted to send the issue back to the zoning board for further discussion. Apparently when the issue came up at the previous zoning meeting few, if any, citizens showed up to share their concerns. (Related note: few, if any, citizens were aware of the zoning commission meetings.)
Once the discussion was tabled, the trustees allowed a few minutes for the room to empty out and I left with a friend. My friends who stayed reported that those who remained were allowed to air their concerns at the end of the meeting.
Although the discussion is just getting started, I want to share a few observations. Observations, not interpretations, which means I'm sticking to the facts.
It's very difficult to have a constructive dialogue about gun control. Emotions run high on both sides of the discussion. When I saw a notice posted about last night's meeting on Facebook, one person asked if there was data to validate safety concerns about having a gun shop/range within a certain distance of the high school. That person was then verbally attacked. (Note: this is a problem relating to other sensitive topics, too. When did looking to science and data become a bad thing?) People on both sides of the issue have a tendency to abandon arguments of logic and resort to naming-calling. They look at people on the opposite side of the issue as "others" rather attempt to understand them or find common ground. (Which is one of the reasons I'm game to going to a shooting range one day.)
Moms really do demand gun sense action. Based on the people who expressed a clear opinion without using their voices--like those holding "vote yes" signs or those wearing green ribbons (a nod to Sandy Hook and the need for gun control), the moms/women want gun sense and men want their local gun shop/range. This is not to say there was a strict gender line, but there was an apparent one. I've observed this before.
Smokers in this group favor the gun shop. As people left the non-meeting, small crowds gathered outside the building. To reach the parking lot, I had to pass next to the group of smokers at the bottom of the stairs outside the building, "vote yes" signs tucked under their arms as toxic secondhand smoke lingered in the air around them.
The traditional news media was out in full force last night and imagine in the coming weeks this issue will blow up on both sides. I'll keep you posted.
Oh, and I mentioned above that there are 4 schools within walking distance of the proposed shop, including that one just 1,000 feet away. I also have regional concerns. According to Tracing the Guns: The Impact of Illegal Guns on Violence in Chicago, four gun shops in the Chicago suburbs account for 20% of the guns used in crimes in the city. All of these suburbs are adjacent to Chicago, as is Niles.