Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty has announced plans for a community forum on gun violence on Thursday.

In a statement, Hagerty said, “With this month’s horrific school shooting in Florida, a police commander shot and killed in Chicago, and an ETHS graduate victimized in our own community, it’s clear that gun violence is a problem that isn’t going away on its own. As a community and as a country, we have to do better.”

He says the meeting, at 7 p.m. in the Parasol Room at the Civic Center, will discuss “ways that we as Evanston residents can make an impact. I’m specifically interested in identifying concrete actions that we as residents can take.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Don’t politicize the discussion if you want to make a difference
    I hope there will be meaningful discussions about gang bangers with guns, violent video games, gun free zone declarations, the right to carry concealed guns at school and what procedures are in place in Evanston if someone known to have received treatment for mental illness has access to guns.

    The Florida shooting should have been prevented by the FBI and local police. Cruz did receive mental health treatment BEFORE he bought his gun. The issue in that shooting is mental illness and school, police and mental health clinics not reporting him to the state and national gun registration list. If they had, he would not have been able to buy guns. Banning access to guns ain’t gonna do nothing. AR15 guns were banned when Columbine happened.

    In Germany where gun control is much more strict than America, there were two high school shootings in 2001 and 2009 with a total death rate of 32 students and teachers. And the young shooters were mentally unstable, both played violent video games and did NOT use an AR15. Parkland High School declared itself a gun free zone? That apparently didn’t stop the shooter.

    A Columbine high school survivor is now a Colorado legislator and he keeps introducing a bill to remove limitations on concealed carry in K-12 schools. I hope that is discussed as well. If one of the teachers or coaches had a gun maybe things would be different. Maybe even to the point that it would scare away a shooter. I bet Coach Feis in his last brave moments was wishing he had a gun or that Sandy Hook principal who valiantly charged the shooter.

    The Chicago cop and Semark were gunned down by drug dealers and likely gangbangers. In Semark’s case, it was a drug deal gone bad. Yet, I still have not read any media reports if the guns used in those killings were legally purchased, stolen or what not. Common sense tells me the shooters did not legally own the guns. Another topic for discussion should be “how do we get guns out of the hands of felons and gangbangers?” Maybe our elected leaders should declare a war on gangs and increase jail time to anyone with a criminal record or known gangbangers illegally possessing a gun. BTW-Cook County inmates gave the cop killer an loud raucous applause when he was booked into jail.

    If we raise the age limit to buy a gun or AR15 at 21 then we would have a situation where you’re old enough to go into the military and fight a war but not old enough to buy a gun. Is that fair?

    I hope the discussion won’t be politicized. There is no way you will ever solve a problem until you adequately define it. Gun control is NOT the definitive solution.

    1. Logically speaking

      Logically speaking, if there are no guns, then there would be no deaths by guns.

      Yes, I recognize there are idiots in this country who still want guns. So, banning guns is not practically possible in the near term. But that does not and should not stop discussion and implementation of gun control laws. Here are few thoughts:

      1. Mandatory registration and licensing for all gun owners and gun dealers and their guns. Sales of all guns and related items (bullets, clips, holsters) must be registered on state and federal databases. Note, licensing will require gun training certification.

      2. Mandatory insurance for all gun owners.

      3. Strict liability for adults whose guns are unlawfully discharged or used criminally – anywhere.

      4. Very high sales tax on guns, bullets and other related paraphenelia. Australia banned guns in the 1990s. How many mass shootings have there been in Australia since?

      In the U.S. we seem to have a mass shooting at least once a month now. Back when Columbine occurred it was the first one in decades. Since then, the frequency of mass shootings have increased dramatically. Every owner of an assault weapon is complicit in these mass shootings. period.

      1. Would any of your points have
        Would any of your points have stopped any of the recent shootings mentioned? If you think so, please elaborate.

      2. Let me get this straight
        When that guy shot up Virginia Tech with handguns, everyone who owned whatever it is you deem to be an assault weapon was complicit? And FYI, there were plenty of mass shootings before Columbine in the ’80’s and ’90’s (e.g., McDonald’s in California, school in California, University of Iowa and plenty of others), it’s just that Columbine gave the 24 hour news channels a story for a long cycle, so they ran with it. Now these lunatics know that they will become famous if they shoot up a school.

        What exactly does your point 3 mean? Does that mean that the cop in San Fran who had his gun stolen by an undocumented person who then used the gun to shoot a woman should go to prison?

        Chicago and Illinois have extremely onerous gun licensing laws. Do you know anything about the process for getting a FOID or concealed carry permit in Illinois? Do you know of the regulations on selling guns in this area that have severely curtailed the number of dealers? Yet with all of that regulation, Chicago still has an unconscionably high number of gun murders and I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority were committed by people who didn’t have a FOID. Heck, just last week a fine Chicago police officer lost his life at the hands of a multi time convicted felon – no way that guy was eligible for a FOID. I hope that in addition to pushing for more zealous gun control you push local officials to introduce mandatory minimums and reinstitute high bail for cases involving guns rather than this ridiculousness we have now where kids are using guns to carjack people and walking out of jail with no bail the next business day.

        1. Close to Indiana with lax laws
          While it’s certainly true that Chicago has strict gun laws and a decently high murder rate, that is largely due to the accessibility of guns nearby, namely in Indiana which has extremely lax gun laws. Wisconsin does too. It’s very easy for a criminal to cross the border, make a purchase, and come back. Or make several purchases and then illegally sell those firearms to his buddies in Illinois. The statistics show a shockingly high number of guns used in Chicago crimes are purchased elsewhere. Crossing state lines is not hard and IL is surrounded by states with quick and easy access. If the Chicago laws were federal in nature or Chicago was surrounded by politically-similar states, you’ve got to believe it’d be a lot harder (certainly not suggesting it’d be impossible though) for criminals to acquire guns in Chicago. They’re not going to be going down to Mexico to make the purchases and bring them across the border.

          1. So you think smuggling won’t happen
            No reason to go to Mexico and bring them up, if they become illegal they will simply be smuggled up and sold here anyway. No registration, no ability to track anything, no nothing, just completely forced underground.
            How long has heroin or cocaine been illegal here and how well have efforts to eradicate drug smuggling from Mexico worked so far? Oh, that’s right, heroin is at record levels, so easy and cheap to obtain that users are younger than ever.
            People are emotional right now, understood, but they should be careful what they wish for. Banning will make it only slightly more difficult to obtain such a weapon, nothing more. Remaining legal with stronger background checks, etc etc is the direction we should be taking.

      3. Bill of Rights

        Which other enumerated right do you want to tax out of existence? How about a tax on free speech or tax on freedom from search/seizure? How about you pay for a right to trial? Or, wait, even better – how about a very-very high voting tax! You don’t even know the current state of gun laws in IL…

    2. DO Politicize the discussion if you want to make a difference

      This is about a flawed Second Amendment to the Constitution
      So this is most definitely about Politics.

      The NRA has politicized this for years telling people that Liberals were coming to get their guns.  
      They are the political lobbying arm for the GUN INDUSTRY not for GUN OWNERS.

      The Columbine Massacre was 19 years ago.
      Every student currently in our school system has grown up with Mass Shootings at schools being “normal”.
      That is so very wrong and so very sad.
      They want this to stop. I applaud them.

      As for the NRA – they sponsored the Rifle team that trained the Parkland shooter. They must be held accountable.
      And as of today they have said NOTHING publicly about this incident.  This is the longest they have stayed silent after a mass shooting.  Wait, I take that back, there is an NRA Board Member who just promoted the idea that “the Parkland school shooting survivors who are currently calling for gun regulation are “coached” actors.”   

      When the NRA was founded in 1871 their motto was  “Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation.”

      The NRA assisted President Roosevelt in drafting the first federal gun control laws. These laws placed heavy taxes and regulation requirements on firearms that were associated with crime, such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers. Gun sellers and owners were required to register with the federal government and felons were banned from owning weapons. 

      Karl T. Frederick, the president of the NRA at the time, testified before Congress stating, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

      The NRA also supported California’s Mulford Act of 1967, which banned carrying loaded weapons in public in response to the Black Panther Party’s impromptu march on the State Capitol to protest gun control legislation.

      Today the NRA’s mission is to lobby heavily against any new restrictions on guns.  They have been allowed to build and maintain a wall between the public and their representatives.

      One of the reasons the NRA has been powerful for so long is that politicians have been afraid to challenge their power. That’s because the NRA has done a great job of mobilizing voters around a single issue and has, in many ways, operated as a textbook civics organization. But as it’s become more and more just a part of the Republican Party, and has drifted into more and more extreme positions, it’s actually become weaker.

      The NRA and its affiliated network of groups can be beaten. They can be beaten if equally passionate advocates join together for gun control, tap into moral passion and identity, and use their organizational force to turn gun control into a wedge issue capable of determining the political fate of upscale suburban districts that now hold the balance of political power for the nation. More and more, it looks like Parkland is the catalytic tragedy to make this happen.

      1. Shame on you for politicizing this before the bodies are buried
        Wow. Based on your post with NRA in bold letters it sounds like you think the NRA is 100 percent responsible for the Parkland HS shooting. Maybe they texted Cruz instructions on how to carry out the shooting. Let’s get a special counsel to investigate!!

        First, the NRA did NOT sponsor the Parkland ROTC rifle team. It gave the school’s ROTC program a GRANT.

        Second, the worst school massacre in US. history happened in 1927 in Bath, Michigan. An angry suicidal dude detonated a bomb that blew up 38 elementary school children and two teachers. Is the NRA responsible for that attack as well?

        True, most NRA campaign donations go to Republican politicians but there are Democrats who have received NRA support.

        Rather than just blame the NRA for shooting deaths of innocent people let’s talk a little about how good guys saved lives with guns.

        In 2003, Hale Demar was putting his small children to bed in his Wilmette home when the silent alarm went off. He got his gun, went downstairs and twice shot the burglar. Wilmette police later charged Demar because at the time Wilmette ordinance prohibited the ownership of handguns, even in the home!!!

        Last year, a former National Rifle Association instructor grabbed his semi automatic rifle and ran barefoot across the street to open fire on a masked gunman who shot people in a small town Texas church. Stephen Willeford was hailed a hero and saved lives. His weapon was an AR15!

        An Oklahoma widow whose husband had just died of cancer shot and killed intruders who broke into her home. As the intruders broke thru the back door, the woman put a bottle in her baby’s mouth, called 911 and asked permission to shoot them. Good thing she had guns. There are countless other stories like this.

        You make it sound like mass school shootings are now “normal,” whatever normal means. In 1967, 17 UT students were shot to death from a maniac shooting from the university’s tower. In 1976, a custodian afflicted with paranoid schizophrenic shot and killed 7 students at California State University, Fullerton with a semi-automatic gun.

        Our culture is violent. Generations now have grown up watching violent movies where countless people are shot and killed on screen. Add to that the onslaught of violent video games and its a recipe for even a more violent culture. In addition, the majority of these mass shootings come from mentally ill or unstable men. Like it or not we have become desensitized to violence.

        We now have a violent subculture of rap music with it’s own angry and violent lingo; it’s dress code and “gangsta” attitude. We’ve taken prayer out of public schools.

        The only reason you and others are blaming the NRA is because you know most of its donors are Republicans. By blaming the NRA you can easily blame those that receive donations. You and most Democrats have no shame in politicizing a tragedy even before all the bodies are buried. I don’t believe you or most Democrats really care about trying to solve this difficult problem in our society. You just want to create a boogeyman and blame a political party in order to get votes. I hope most Americans see thru this charade and political chicanery.

        1. Let’s hear from the survivors about the NRA

          Here are some quotes from students that survived this shooting.  

          I wonder what they think of the NRA and if this issue is political or not?

          “It should be a nonpartisan issue; the fact that it’s not is disgusting, and it’s a testament to how terrible these people are, like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, President Trump, Vice President Pence, and people just all over the Senate and the state level, too, that are supported by the NRA.

          Universal background checks have wide support. It’s just House Speaker Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell will not allow any of these bills to come to the floor. Children are dying as a result. The blood from all these 17 people who are dead now, and all the thousands of others who are dead as a result of gun violence — it’s on their hands and the NRA.”  
          David Hogg survivor

          “This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats, this is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.”  
          Cameron Kasky survivor


          1. Political?
            It appears obvious that David Hogg and Cameron Kasky made the issue extremely political and appeared to me to be coached. Listening to other teen and adult speakers, most kept a non-political tone and looked for a fix without finger pointing.

      2. obstructions
        An interesting thought to me is why has the NRA taken on such a hard line. Especially considering that the majority of their over 5 million supporters and the majority of all gun owners believe in greater gun control. The millions of legal responsible gun owners don’t want these tragedies and they realize that change needs to come. But.

        Look at many in the anti gun lobby and their efforts to ban all guns out right. They don’t like hunting and have no respect for the lifestyles of others, they don’t believe in self defense arguments, have their personal beliefs on the interpretation of the second amendment, there is no discussion, they brook no dissent, they are right, your wrong, end of story.

        Then look at the dishonest political efforts of the anti gun lobby here at home. Chicago legislated all gun owners must register their handguns, most reasonable, then deliberately refused to implement any actual procedure to allow handguns to be become registered, making them all illegal.

        Then Chicago passed legislation that stated to obtain a permit you needed to pay a $100 fee, get a background check and complete a 5 hour firearms training course. Still all very reasonable, except for the dishonest fact that they then made it illegal to operate such a facility and therefore impossible to legally complete the mandated 5 hour course. Does that sound like a sincere, transparent, honest effort?

        So with such dishonest tactics, here and across the country, I think that’s why the NRA takes a give no inch position even though their membership believes in change, frustrating everyone. If we want real change then maybe the anti gun types of tactics/people also stand in the way. Are the efforts of the NRA solely to blame, or has the anti gun lobby also played a complicit hand in causing the obstruction of change. Just a thought.

    3. Age to buy AR-15
      On your question about the age to buy an AR-15, I think actually 25 would be reasonable. Yeah, I get it, a kid can get drafted at 17 and a half, but he can’t buy booze until 21. On an AR-15s and probably handguns other than revolvers, I think 25 is a reasonable age because there is a body of research about brain development being incomplete before roughly 25. There are mass shooters over 25, but there are a lot of them who are well under 25 and though I hate to concede an inch because I know the other side will try to turn it into a mile, that one seems like the most reasonable concession. Heck, car rental companies don’t like renting to people under 25 because they generally just aren’t as responsible as people over 25. The problem is defining exactly what you would have to be 25 to purchase – that’s a tricky subject.

  2. Teachers with guns!?!!!

    Al, will you complain when your taxes go up to pay for all those guns you want teachers to have in order to fend off the bad guys in school?

  3. “A well regulated militia…”
    The Supreme Court was wrong in ruling(s) that says the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to own guns. The intent of the framers of the constitution was to give the individual STATES the right to form an army, what we today call the National Guard. Guns were a modern convenience in the 18th century. Do we have or need a constitutional amendment to own a computer, cell phone or automobile? Furthermore, horses were the main form of transportation in the 18th century (other than river travel). Can you own and house a horse in Evanston, Chicago or NYC today? And just out of curiosity, has the Supreme Court ever been wrong before?

  4. Why does ETHS choose not to
    Why does ETHS choose not to have metal detectors? Surrounding districts, including New Trier HS and CPS have them.

  5. Ban sale of these weapons

    I am in favor of banning the sale of assault type weapons and high capacity magazines. I don’t see a down side to this. The worst that would happen is that we would have to struggle through life without owning military style weapons. I think most of us could manage somehow.

  6. The ubiquitous Australian example
    It was too good to be true. Humans are humans everywhere. Now Australia –the example of gun control—is showing signs of slipping, pressured by… human nature.


    Executive Summary: Four consecutive formal reports have now found that no Australian State or Territory has at any stage fully complied with the 1996 or 2002 firearm resolutions which collectively formed the National Firearms Agreement.

    In the wider public debate, observers on all sides note that in important areas, State and Territory legislation has been blocked or revised to dilute the effect of the NFA. This report finds that on balance, both non-compliance from day one and two decades of political pressure have steadily reduced restrictions and undermined the NFA’s original intent.

    3 Standout examples of current non-compliance with the National Firearms Agreement include: Children and Guns Despite the NFA requirement that all applicants for a licence be at least 18 years of age, every State and Territory allows minors to possess and use firearms (see pages 44-45). The licensing age for children varies from 10 to 16 years, and at club shoots, Western Australia stipulates no minimum age at all. With this nationally agreed NFA resolution, no jurisdiction complies. Etc etc etc

    Then they list all the “non-compliances” by state. You can read the full report at:

  7. Can we be adults?
    How do we talk to each other like adults to solve a serious problem? Can we find a way to meet in the middle and stop pointing fingers? I have to believe that most of us don’t want to continue to see children murdered. Right? We can’t go on like this. People are dying while we bicker. It’s ridiculous.

    1. We cannot find a way to meet in the middle…
      … because the anti-gunners are not honest about their ultimate goal, which is the total confiscation of firearms.

      Guess what – UK did that (Pierce Morgan played a role) under a pressure from a similar incident. Now they have knife buy-backs and want to ban glass beer glasses from pubs. All in the name of safety…

      1. Fantasy

        Stop regurgitating hannity talking points. That’s ridiculous and purely meant to manipulate you into hating the “others”. Think about it. How are the anti-gunners going to get all the guns when your side controls all of the government? Pure fantasy. Plus, it’s just an excuse to cut off discussion.

        Stop letting the media (right AND left) program and divide us. 

    2. Things we can agree on
      Whether you are “pro-gun” control or “anti-gun” control it seems to me there are certain things we should all be able to agree on.

      1. We should all be able to agree to restrict the sale of military type weapons with high capacity magazines. It doesn’t make sense that civilians can posses guns that allow them to shoot dozens of people in a couple of minutes or less. Mass shooters are attracted to these types of weapons for obvious reasons.

      2. Mandatory background checks.

      3. Restrictions on number of purchases by an individual to something like one gun per month.

      The above items are modest and reasonable restrictions that we should all be able to support and we should insist that our political representatives support them also. I’m sure there are other areas where reasonable people with different points of view on this issue can agree.

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