Longmont Faith Community to Host Gun Violence, Gun Rights Conversation
If you go
What: Community Conversation on Reducing the Risk of Gun Violence
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12
Where: Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road
Cost: Free, but space is limited. Registration required by Sept. 10.
More info: Sign up at longmontcolorado.gov/communityconversation .
A group of Longmont-based churches this month is hosting a community conversation on the risk of gun violence. The forum will follow a model that breaks up people with differing view points into groups in an effort to reach common ground.
The Rev. David Barker, of the Central Longmont Presbyterian Church, said the event, which happens Sept. 12, is about creating a space for a conversation.
“Whenever the issue of gun violence and/or restrictions on firearms come up, people pretty quickly take sides and they end up talking at one another. What we want to do is bring people together and have a conversation where we can listen.
Numerous faith organizations are participating in the conversation — Chabad Jewish Center of Longmont, Left Hand Community Church, Light of Christ Catholic Church, Longmont Nazarene Church, Longmont Shabbat Group, Summit 4 Square Gospel Church, Longmont United Church of Christ, and Westview Presbyterian Church.
Longmont city government also is participating in the conversation, and Barker said a city council member — Tim Waters — pitched the idea.
Reached by phone Saturday, Waters said he reached out to Barker following a city council meeting in May when Mayor Brian Bagley read a proclamation regarding June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
The proclamation was made at the request of the Longmont chapter of pro-gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, but Waters said members of local pro-Second Amendment group Rally for our Rights also came and spoke passionately .
“It was a moment of some tension in our council chambers there were strong views expressed,” Waters said. “It just happened to be right on the heels of what the Boulder council had done.”
Boulder City Council in May passed an ordinance earlier this year banning certain semi-automatic weapons deemed to be assault rifles and the national debate on whether to arm school personnel.
Waters said there were calls for Longmont council to take some kind of action with regard to gun safety, but he felt that members of the community on opposite sides of the issue should be communicating in a constructive manner before any meaningful progress can be made.
“For us to get there, we need to have a structured way for people to talk to one another,” Waters said. He added that prevention of gun violence and protection of gun rights shouldn’t be an either/or issue, that both are possible.
Organizers have settled on the World Cafe model, which Barker said involves breaking up people into groups around tables where they take two questions as a prompt. For the purposes of the event at the Longmont Museum, attendees will be asked “What can we do collectively to reduce the risk and respect rights?” and “What can I do individually to collectively reduce the risk and respect rights?”
Participants will periodically switch tables and break down into new groups.
“The way the process typically works is you see there is some common ground reached by people on both sides of the issue,” Barker said. “You have a sense of common concerns and with that the possibility of a way forward.”
John Bear: 303-473-1355, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johnbearwithme