On Jan. 17, I attended the Atascadero Democratic Club business meeting and informational forum at 7:30 p.m. on gun safety which had been announced in the Atascadero News calendar to include a field representative from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office and a local emergency room doctor, Steven Sainsbury, with 25 years emergency room experience speaking on his perspective regarding gun safety.
This program was planned after the Sandy Hook Elementary School killing of 20 first graders and six school personnel trying to protect them. As the gun control/safety issue heated up, the club found itself and meeting date right in the middle of the issuance of Vice President Joe Biden’s recommendations from his committee hearings on the issue.
After 6 p.m. on Jan. 17, folks began assembling at the door. President Midori Feldman and Vice President Tom Comar went outside and explained to the crowd that Sen. Feinstein’s representation had been pulled because the meeting had become “public” with press expected and the representative was neither authorized to speak with the press nor had Sen. Feinstein’s bill been finalized. The club was told that it had been rumored that this public forum was a “gun confiscation meeting.”
It was standing room only as the meeting got under way with speakers going first and written questions taken from the floor. There were a couple of tense moments when mumbling and comments interfered with the speakers’ presentations, but respect was requested and, in general, there was consideration from club members, interested persons and gun enthusiasts who believe under the second amendment that they have a right to carry arms.
Although I believe the press totally sensationalized the meeting, highlighting one of the tense moments, I wanted to set the record straight.
The Atascadero Democratic Club thought this was a valuable meeting. For the most part, there was respect on all sides. Everyone listened to the speakers and most questions were answered. It appeared there was a sharing of information that had not been available to those in the room, an understanding that the government does not want to take away your guns, but gun safety must be better.
The club shared the Biden Commission and President Barack Obama’s recommendations for gun safety, which include: 1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands. President Obama is asking Congress to urgently introduce legislation to eliminate loopholes and require background checks for all gun sales, 2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, 3. Making schools safer with armed guards, 4. Increasing access to mental health services, 5. Keep 15,000 cops on the street and 6. Help schools develop and implement comprehensive emergency management plans.
No one espoused taking guns from law abiding citizens.
The emergency room doctor started out saying he was a “conservative Republican,” who had been invited to give his perspective on gun violence. His experience and statistics regarding gunshot wounds in his emergency room and around the country backed up the need for improved gun safety. He explained the damage a single bullet does to the human body and how devastating that single bullet would be to a young child.
After the meeting many guests came up and thanked members of the club for having the forum and asked about future public forums the club would be having. If we take the emotion, misinformation out of the gun issues and listen to what is reasonable for gun safety, I believe we all benefit from a safer America.
Lee Perkins moved to Atascadero with her family in 1986 and is now retired. She has worked as a secretary, office administrator/public relations, and school counselor K-12.For the complete article see the 02-01-2013 issue.
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