Foster Hosts Gun Violence Prevention Panel

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As the conversation on gun violence continues around the country, it also carries on in Naperville.

Nearly 300 people came out to the Yellow Box Theater for a recent panel on gun violence prevention, put on by Congressman Bill Foster.

“It is the duty of every generation to strike this delicate balance between self protection and the need for something like the second amendment, and the need for us to feel safe in our communities and in events where we gather together,” said Foster.

Alongside Congressman Foster was Dr. Karen Sheehan who presented statistics on violent deaths in Illinois and Marsha Lee who discussed her experience as a mother of a gun violence victim.

“But in all honesty, after my son was murdered I thought ‘what was the point in raising him the right way? What was the point in bringing him up in church? What was the point in teaching him not to get a gun, not to get a felony, for it to end like this,” Lee questioned.

Joining them were students Rohan Chakrabarty and Jacob Baron of Metea Valley and Naperville North high schools. Both played a part in organizing their school’s student walkouts last month, in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“The ways by which we ensure the change occurs is through unity. It’s through bipartisan discussion. It’s through discussion with individuals who do not hold the same opinion as you. Because if you don’t listen to these individuals, if you don’t understand their perspective, then how can you believe your perspective is necessarily the correct one,” said Chakrabarty.

Audience members could submit questions to the panel, which ranged from arming teachers and thoughts on AR-15 rifles to school safety and the second amendment.

And while some answers received applause of support, others received flack.

With much of the panel expressing their thoughts on gun legislation and advocating for reform, some audience members were hoping to hear from the other side of the argument as well.

“They seem to be wanting to take away AR-15s or whatever, but when you read that there’s maybe 8 to 15 million of the so-called assault rifles in the country and what percentage of these are actually used for violence,” said attendee Lee Cass. “Are they saying that 99.99 percent of guns should be taken away from people because of the actions of a dozen crazy people?”

Foster recently voted in favor of the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which in part supports allowing the Center For Disease Control to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.