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What More to Do?

| Opinion | March 17, 2017

by Betty Arenson
A lot of hay was made about U.S. Representative Steve Knight’s town hall meeting on March 4.

Apparently the pessimistic views were: the meeting wasn’t for the right reasons (he had to be “cajoled” and guilted”); it wasn’t the right time (8 a.m.) and it wasn’t the right venue (seating for about 280 people). Democrats complained and one local man, Charles Vignola, dedicated a commentary to it last week.

The area that Knight represents spreads far and wide. If the implication is that this is the one and only town hall meeting to be held in Knight’s term, that’s unfair. Frankly, so is the complaint about the amount of seating.

Considering the lack of interest in voting, as proven by the constant reminder of low voter turnout in elections, it seems that selecting a venue of nearly 300 people was logical, but no one will convince the naysayers of that.

Charles Vignola posed a reasonable question to representative Knight: What are Knight’s “thoughts on how to address the 11,000 Americans killed every year by gun violence?” Knight’s response was that he is in favor of universal background checks.

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Aside from the question being practical, it was also interesting. It was interesting because Vignola works in the movie industry and there’s no faction in the country that promotes using guns and making it sexy more than the movie business.

Not even the NRA.

The NRA promotes the right of ownership as a protected right under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. It highly promotes gun safety and being knowledgeable about using one.

The movies, on the other hand, clearly show how to get a gun, by any means, at any cost, using it for every nefarious act possible and if several people are maimed or killed in the process, oh well. It all looks very heroic and cool.

The lethal perpetrators are glorified as attractive bad boys, often with a lot of wealth and clout — luxury at their finger tips. On the other side of the coin is the relentless thug mentality where the strongest survive and loom over their turf.

I’ve yet to see in these settings one gun gotten via showing ID, filling out an application, waiting 10 full days and getting the weapon registered.

The prudent questions to those in the movie industry are: “What are you doing to change the culture of the big business you work in? Do you refuse to take part in any activity to make or promote such a violent product? Do you talk to your co-workers and suggest the same? Do you go to your bosses to encourage and effectuate change in the industry?”

Secondly, I wonder if any of the like-minded attendees would have asked U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, that same question. Gutierrez represents Chicago — the shooting/homicide capital of the United States.

The Chicago Tribune reported 4,368 Chicago shootings in 2016 and 588 between January 1 and March 13, 2017.

CBS News reported 762 Chicago shooting homicides in 2016; the most in 20 years, and 1,100 more shootings in 2016 than 2015.

Gutierrez held a large town hall this month which included (predictably) the anti-Trump theme, a Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) representative, LGBTQ, Planned Parenthood, the environment, and of course, Gutierrez’ omnipresent passion and reason for breathing: immigration — that’s code for an unfettered acceptance and protections for illegal immigration.

There was no reference whatsoever of his area’s gun violence — shameful. There was not one direct confrontation to Rep. Luis Gutierrez with the question posed to Steve Knight. After all, if you end up on the talking side of a bullet, does it matter if you’re pro LGBT, Planned Parenthood, the environment or are any kind of immigrant?

Perhaps Knight should have offered a second answer: “This is a country-wide problem, worse  in some areas than others. I’ll talk to Luis.”

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