The “Guns & a Civil Society” summit brought together a diverse set of national and local voices to examine our complex relationship to guns. The summit sought to answer the following questions: What does the research show about Americans’ relationship to guns? How do our laws work (or not) for gun owners, law enforcement, hunters, gun safety advocates, and all impacted by gun violence?
Washington State Senator Jamie Pedersen started off the day giving attendees a primer on our state’s gun laws, giving important context for the day’s conversations.
Sociology Professor Angela Stroud, author of Good Guys with Guns: The Appeal and Consequences of Concealed Carry was the keynote speaker. This was one of her most resonant takeaways: Carrying a firearm to stop gun violence is an individual response to a structural problem.
Attendees then heard two panel discussions. The first, covered the impact of an armed citizenry on the work of several key professionals: Angeal Stroud, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Washington State Rep. Ruth Kagi, Seattle Police Sergeant Adrian Diaz, and veteran and paramedic Tim Moses.
The second panel highlighted two researchers. First, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, presented a survey designed in partnership with Harvard University. Then, Eric Ruben, a Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University shared his work on perceptions in First and Second Amendment doctrine.
During lunch, Joe Plenzler, an MIT Seminar Communications Fellow, led a discussion on deconstructing NRA messaging.
The day ended with two breakout sessions. The first session put forward a proposal to liberalize firearms education, focusing on the gun lobby’s firearm education and how it impacts behavior. The second session unpacked guns and racism in America, with Pastor Michael McBride, National Director of the Urban Strategies/LIVE FREE campaign, outlining how the PICO Network is working to untangle that bond.
The event took place just days before a gunman opened fire at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people, wounding 20 more, and thrusting questions of armed civilians back into the national conversation.