Invitation to join the groundswell

Opinion: Ken Trainor

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

When I tell people about belonging to a "gun group," they do a nifty little double-take. "Gun group" is my shorthand for Gun Responsibility Advocates (GRA), a remarkable collection of committed individuals I feel privileged to have met through our quixotic effort to create a dialogue locally about gun violence.

Not all gun rights advocates are extremists, but many are, and they're adept at intimidating our elected representatives and keeping them from acting in the public interest. But gun defenders are not the majority, not by a long shot (so to speak). In fact, their influence is out of proportion to their numbers.

We know this because last November, GRA put a non-binding referendum on the ballot, and by a margin of 93% to 7%, Oak Park voters approved a call for federal legislation establishing a single, consistent-across-all-states, universal background check system for all gun sales, closing the loopholes that make current gun regulation laws a Swiss cheese of inefficiency and making guns far too easy to access by criminals, children and people suffering from mental illness. 

Gun rights advocates will tell you, "Gun control doesn't work." Of course it doesn't work. The current patchwork system is designed to fail. But if they tell you a single, nationwide background check system doesn't work, they're bluffing because it's never been tried.

In Oak Park, we know that roughly 93 percent favor giving it a try. That's what I call a groundswell. If you think "that's just liberal Oak Park," a very similar non-binding referendum last November, covering all of Cook County, garnered over 80% approval. Cook County comprises a lot of communities that are nowhere near as liberal as Oak Park. And that referendum included a ban on assault weapons (ours didn't because Oak Park already has one). 

The Cook County numbers, by the way, reflect national polling, which indicates more than 80% of Americans support background checks and other forms of common-sense gun regulation. Even the Supreme Court, in overturning our handgun ban, supported the right of communities to regulate gun ownership and possession.

Our group believes that responsibilities are inseparable from rights. We contend that gun owners have a moral obligation to their country, which they claim to feel patriotic about, to support the minor inconvenience of background checks for every gun sale and every gun purchase nationwide. That's just one example of what accepting responsibility means. 

A national background check system would be a significant step toward creating a safer society. Yet the small minority who advocate gun rights with virtually no responsibility continue to impose their will on the rest of us, making our society demonstrably less safe.

How small is that minority? It really doesn't matter because 100 percent of non-criminal Americans want to create a safer society for themselves and their loved ones. That is our common ground. Now we just have to agree on what steps to take to reduce gun violence.

The gun rights crowd argues that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens will make society safer, believing that an armed populace will make criminals think twice about committing crimes. They also favor a militarized, hyper-vigilant police presence in inner-city neighborhoods. 

But Ferguson, Baltimore and myriad mass shooting incidents have shown that such notions are tragically wrong. And as for children being killed by gun accidents at home, or suicides, or mentally ill individuals committing mass murder in first-grade classrooms or movie theaters, gun rights extremists dismiss such instances as "statistically insignificant."

Our group learned firsthand — after 11 months of trying — that gun defenders will never be open to dialogue as long as they hold tight to the NRA-perpetuated myth that "All you want to do is take away our guns."

We don't want to take away the estimated 300 million guns in this country (even if we could, a laughable notion). What we want is for gun owners to accept more responsibility for their gun rights and join us in creating a safer society.

But mired in their extremism, that isn't likely. So the rest of us need to start taking intentional steps in that direction, in spite of any and all resistance. It is a moral imperative because our loved ones are endangered by easy access to guns. 

To that end, we have organized a panel discussion for next Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m. in the Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room. 

Six panelists will speak about gun violence from a variety of angles: Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley on law enforcement, former village attorney Ray Heise on the law, retired County Hospital trauma surgeon John Barrett on public health, 8th District state Rep. La Shawn Ford on legislation, Martha Rosenberg of the National Gun Victims Action Council on economic leverage against corporations and gun dealers, and firsthand experience from the inner-city by spoken word poet Leslie Hunter.

Audience members will be invited to submit questions, comments and ideas on index cards, which will be read and discussed. 

It's an opportunity for those concerned about gun violence to network and identify specific pathways to a safer society.

We are just one small part of an expanding groundswell nationwide that we believe will someday change attitudes, legislation, and finally, behavior.

We invite you to the library next Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m.

To help us build momentum.


Reader Comments

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Dylan Bellisle  

Posted: June 24th, 2015 1:38 PM

As I posted elsewhere.... I have a right to life, health, and to arms. What does that mean in American society? It means that if I need a prescription to get my medicine, I should need a "prescription" to get my gun. The history of the United States is full of rules on where and how you could have a gun. In some small towns, if you were from out of town, you had to check your guns with the local sheriff. Unfortunately, a vocal minority of gun owners equate sensible regulation with prohibition. "Title" guns like cars and this is a beginning to addressing the trafficking of illegal guns not only in the United States but many countries in the Western Hemisphere. In this day it would be very easy to make this streamlined that it is simply something entered into a computer. And I am not ignorant to the roll so called "gang members" have to play. But that's an entirely different issue, because that is an issue of lack of good jobs, good education, and access to quality programing like you have in town like Oak Park. You need to address the root cause of violence, but you also need to address the tools of violence as well.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: June 24th, 2015 12:20 PM

@ Dominick You can allege "deceptive statistics" and "red herrings," but no matter how you look at the numbers, they don't look good. I can only assume that in your research, you are only seeking out data and statistics that support your narrative because this info is widely available. Secondly, you're referencing "global" homicides while I specifically stated "OECD," or "developed" countries. Of course a war-torn country or a banana republic is going to have significantly more homicides than the U.S. But if you want to compare TOTAL homicides across those same countries that I mentioned in my previous post, the U.S. still averages a rate of homicides per 100,000 people more than 4x higher with a few outliers that still come in at less than half (feel free to verify these numbers on your own, I already did via the link below): I should also mention that I am not "anti-gun crowd," as I am a registered gun owner and come from a police family. I am, however, part of the "sensible gun controls crowd," and I feel no shame for that.

Dominick M. Diomede  

Posted: June 24th, 2015 11:42 AM

@Mike. I appreciate your view, however you are using a red herring argument regarding "gun violence" stats in other countries. Why not view "total homicide" and compare and contrast? Do homicides other than those committed with firearms not count? Why do we willingly use deceptive statistics? Sure homicides using firearms will be higher here, that's a given. Where do we rank globally for total homicides? I'll give you a hint, it's not even close to the top 10, 20, 30. The anti-gun crowd always talks about common ground and agreeing on policies but how can I come to the table when deceptive tactics are being applied?

Mike Hanline  

Posted: June 24th, 2015 9:01 AM

You're twisting my words, Ray--the consensus is that there is no consensus on decreasing violence, so I'm not sure how that validates Dominick's (or your) point? But fair enough, Ray. Here are some facts and data--may the truth win out: Among the OECD countries, with more firearms per capita and more permissive gun control laws, the U.S. rate of gun-related homicides is more than 20 times the rate of Australia, France, the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland), Israel, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Poland and Slovenia. The U.S. rate of firearm-related deaths is closer to 10 or 16 times the rates of countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 24th, 2015 7:42 AM

@ Mike - the point is that declared consensus is not a valid argument - - ever. Lay the facts and the data on the table and let truth win out.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 10:56 PM

@Ray I won't be baited, try to stay on topic.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 10:51 PM

@ Mike - you have laid out a wonderful argument that might be applied to the consensus about man made climate change. Thank you!

Mike Hanline  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 9:22 PM

@Dominick. While I think you raise some interesting points, I think you're making a big leap establishing causation between increased gun ownership and falling crime rates. I've read articles from both the right and the left on the subject and the general consensus seems to be that nobody quite knows for sure--it's a complex issue with a lot of moving parts. Theories abound from mass incarceration, to increased policing, to an aging population to advances in technology (the more far-fetched ones include legalized abortion and the elimination of lead from paints and gasoline). And increased gun ownership may even play a role, but I think you're oversimplifying the issue if you drew that conclusion on your own--it's likely due to a number of both related and unrelated factors.

Dominick M. Diomede  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 5:01 PM

I've taken the time to read through the article as well as the interesting debate found here within the comments. If one is to simply take a look at the violent crimes reports available on the FBI website, it plainly shows that violent crime has drastically fallen since the early 90's, and continues to fall every year. With the decline in violent crime (homicide included), we've seen gun ownership rise. I also see a great deal of references to "common sense" gun laws. Now whose common sense are we using here? The same common sense that's gotten ourselves ranked at 14th in the world for cognitive skills and education attainment among industrialized nations? I'm sorry, but I like to make decisions that affect my life, myself. How about we do this instead, for some real common sense: if a person who is not legally allowed to own a gun, is caught with one, mandatory life sentence. If a person has been caught selling guns (straw purchaser), they get charged as an accomplice to every crime committed with the weapons that they illegally sold? Why are we not making these requests? Why are people willingly ignoring quantifiable data put out by our OWN GOVERNMENT? I guess I'm one of those few rare people who actually researches what both sides of the debate say rather than taking it at face value. Other people have already touched on the "universal background check" ridiculousness so I really don't have anything to add other than what's already been stated. As a fellow American, please research this stuff yourself versus taking a biased organizations word for it. People are quick to point out the ridiculousness of Fox News, yet are quick to jump on the bandwagon. You're guilty of the same stupidity. Open your eyes please. Thanks for your time.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 1:45 PM

Take a close look at the 30,000 gun-related deaths every year and the numbers are staggering. Gun violence costs the US economy $229 billion annually according to an independent report cited in Rex Huppke's column in today's Trib. Those direct and indirect expenditures include lost wages, medical care, and the criminal justice system. If national organizations like Ken Trainor's group are successful in reducing gun violence by 20%, the projected savings of $45 billion Hupke suggests should be used to bolster the mental health care system. An overwhelming majority of Americans recognize that there is a need to address gun violence and support a common sense approach to keeping guns away from criminals, children and individuals with serious mental health issues. Reforming and strengthening current laws is endorsed by Oak Park voters. If those who oppose those efforts will support a sensible approach that provides protection of their 2nd amendment rights and public safety; there's a chance to find common ground and perhaps a solution.

Paul Clark  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 12:28 PM

@Ray ..... well, I do know that Oak Park's crime rate was relatively low when the handgun ban was in effect and has continued to be flat or drop after the handgun ban was lifted -- while Austin and Englewood's crime rates are still high (if lower than in previous years). Plus, I'm mainly sharing a personal anecdote. Maybe I would benefit even if I didn't carry a gun if Oak Park became known as a mecca for concealed carry citizens. I'd like to think that the village's crime rate has more to do with how the majority of residents and neighbors to the east and west act toward each other, as well as the actions of the police department, and not because there is now an assumption that more people are carrying guns.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 12:13 PM

@ Paul - you fail to separate "Good Guys" from "Bad Guys" The bad guys know the other bad guys are armed, they also know that the vast majority of good guys are not. What puts the fear of god into them is the chance that his mark is a trained and skilled marksman who takes umbrage at someone taking his stuff.

Paul Clark  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 11:13 AM

@Ray ... that doesn't make sense. If the perception that people were carrying was a deterrent to gun crime, then Austin and Englewood would have few if any gun crimes.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 10:40 AM

@ Paul - the value of Concealed Carry is not a population, armed to the teeth, but rather the uncertainty of who is able to defend themselves and who is not. That is why "gun free zones" are ripe for the picking by bad people who want no part of victims who might shoot back.

Paul Clark  

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 7:55 AM

I've had a gun pointed at me twice in my life. Once was 27 years ago on a cold January afternoon when my car broke down on the Eisenhower near the Cicero exit. A kid climbed down from the street above and asked me for money. When I didn't give him in any (because I had none ... PLUS, my car was broken down) he pulled out a gun. He was about 12. The second time was about 15 years ago, in the alley behind my Oak Park home, as I was parking my car with my two young daughters. Three young men -- about 15 years old -- first asked me for directions, and then one pointed a gun at me and my eldest daughter and demanded the keys. I didn't argue. When I think of either event, I never think, "boy, I wish I had a gun." A shootout on the shoulder of the Eisenhower or with my daughters in between my gun and the bad guy's gun likely could easily could out as badly for me as for the bad guys. While I sympathize with the stories of responsible gun owners who practice, keep their guns clean, and keep them secured either in their house or on their persons, I think that both times I was faced with a gun the problem wasn't that I didn't have a gun and the bad guy did. It's because I've likely had a lot more choices than the bad guys. So, for some the solution is more gun control (which hasn't really been shown to work -- my Oak Park carjacking happened at the time when handguns were illegal in Oak Park). For others, the solution is more gun owners (but why should people feel compelled to own a gun). Somehow I think the real solution is more and better choices for those for whom a gun seems like the best choice.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 22nd, 2015 10:57 PM

@ Mike - sorry to inform you but that gun at home makes you one of the bad guys. No matter your intention. Where have you heard any of the rights side members advocate for fewer or no regulations. We live with regulations be it laws or range officers everything we do is controlled. the "grabbers" want your gun just as much as the inner city thugs.illegal hunk of crap.Federal statistics report that in the last 20 years there are three times as many privately owned handguns in the US while firearms related crimes have been reduced to one half.If what you are being told by Ken Trainor -etal is in conflict with that statistic, the truth is being ignored for convenience.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: June 22nd, 2015 5:28 PM

Why is the solution to American's gun violence with you guys always "more guns" and "less regulation?" Of all the developed nations, we're the only one where gun violence is endemic. How do you reconcile that fact? I own a gun, but I keep at home where I can protect me and mine when there are no other options. When I'm out in public, I prefer to let the police do their jobs and would rather not be endangered by a bunch of Rambo-wannabes parading their hardware around the zoo, Chipotle, Wal-Mart, church (if you guys had your way), etc. The problem with the vocal open carry crowd is that you ALL think you're the "responsible" ones, the "good guys." The rest of us know better.

Bernie Fife  

Posted: June 20th, 2015 4:33 PM

Here is a video from a young kid in S.C. who gets it. --- --- What is it about grown men living in Oak Park that makes them not understand things that ordinary people across the country, including kids, can understand?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 20th, 2015 7:02 AM

the injection of the unknown is the key. Almost all of the mass murders have taken place in "Gun Free Zones" where the nut jobs are certain no one will fight back. Crazies and thuggish felons look for victims who cannot fight back. Put uncertainty into their minds and we have improved our odds - at no cost!

Bernie Fife  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 11:56 PM

The outcome would not have been any different except for the good people having a choice. You're not one of those anti-choice types,are you?

Robert Wozniak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 9:47 PM

What if the good people in the church had no interest in packing heat? As I understand the "GSL" philosophy, either we all carry guns at all times, or we're all asking to be shot dead.

Bernie Fife  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 7:39 PM

Quiet Ray, Bill Dwyer is about to speak! Shh! Let's listen to what he has to say!............................................................<crickets.wav>............................. Wan't to know why concealed carry is allowed in Illinois, let alone allowed in churches in Illinois?..................... .............................. Google the story of Mary Shepard, beaten to within an inch of her life in an Illinois church..........Shh..Bill Dwyer is ready to say something, let's listen! ................................. <crickets.wav>

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 7:29 PM

Had that armed and trained parishioner reacted to the situation, Mr Roof would never been able to reload the first time. How many lives would not have been lost? Hard to tell - but - Roof would have either been stopped or made to be dead. Would he have done his deed if there was a chance of someone defending themselves? I believe not!

Bernie Fife  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 6:44 PM

Well Bill Dwyer, that's an interesting question! The killer shot everyone he intended to shoot, even leaving one person alive to tell the story. Reloaded 5 times and nobody was able to stop him. So how did the parishioners being unarmed help the situation? What exactly are you implying Bill Dwyer... that if some of the parishioners were armed, then the dead people would somehow be deader? S.C. law does not allow carry in churches but the law did not save those people. It's like those stupid signs all over Oak Park. Gun Free Zones are killing zones. Every time you enter a place with one of those signs, you had better have a Plan B, because all Mr. Tanksley will be able to do is send the coroner and an officer to write the report, and another with a piece of chalk to draw the outlines around the bodies. So what was Plan B for the parishioners in the S.C. church Bill Dwyer? You seem to have a better idea but you didn't provide any details. So let's hear you Bill Dwyer, what should they have done, raise their hands higher, cry a little louder, or beg for their lives more convincingly?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: June 19th, 2015 7:31 AM

Yeah.. if only those people worshipping our Lord in Charleston, S.C. had been armed, huh?

John Boch  

Posted: June 18th, 2015 7:43 PM

How's your groundswell, Ken? Looks as though you've only got one cheerleader here. That's not even enough to count your groundswell as a really bad pimple. Your groundswell guy can't seem to wrap his mind around facts or logic. His reading comprehension is so flawed that he can't even get the name of Guns Save Life correct! Your entire groundswell schtick would be sad and pathetic if you weren't trying to reenact past tyrannies. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Remember, Sunday, June 28th is the Guns Save Life monthly meeting in Oak Lawn at the VFW there. Dinner and conversation - free and open discussion - starts at 4pm. The "meeting" begins at 5:30. Join the good guys and experience how fun and exciting it can be to extoll the virtues of freedom and liberty, furthering the ideals promoted by our Founding Fathers. Want more? You could win a riot shotgun suitable for home and family defense. A 12-gauge pump shotgun speaks a language that violent criminal predators understand.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 8:55 PM

John Boch, you proved my point. GunsSaveLives does not promote a civil discourse. As one of the organization's leaders, you did not welcome a free and fair discussion about gun violence but instead attempted to bully, ridicule and marginalize. I asked Ray Simpson a few questions about the "rights" views and he responded in a manner that I viewed to be informative, thoughtful, respectful and fair. You chose instead to present yourself as both crude and threatening. Exactly the same nasty tone I observed was prevalent on your group's website. Why not publicly embrace the intolerance you demonstrated instead of trying to present yourself and GunsSaveLives meetings as open to a free and fair discussion? The promise of putting a boot to anyone who does not share your views indicates there's nothing to gained by continuing to discuss with you the issue of gun violence.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 7:59 PM

@ Michael - As this squirlly group explains it to me, a background check would be required every time a gun changes hands. If you go nuts - you could require a check if I let you look at my accurized 45.

Michael Loos  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 7:26 PM

Articles written from the Left plead for a "common sense" discussion about gun control. What they fail to understand is this... When it comes to the Second Amendment, there is nothing to discuss, just as there is no discussion about controlling First Amendment protections on free speech. It doesn't make any difference how many polls or surveys or studies there are - The Second Amendment is a Right, not subject to opinion. Even if polls ran 99% in favor of gun control, it doesn't matter. The Bill of Rights protects the one from the many or the Government (tyranny). If you protect the Rights of the one, you protect the Rights of all. I think what we need a law that makes it illegal to break a law... Wait... did I just use Gun Control Logic?

Michael Loos  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 7:07 PM

Background Checks and Criminals I know this will be hard to hear, but here it is. We already have background checks! Let me say that again, nice and clear - WE ALREADY HAVE BACKGROUND CHECKS! Whenever you buy a gun from a Federally Licensed dealer, he is required to run a background check through the F.B.I. Since 1998 there have been 166,000,000 (166 MILLION) background checks performed by the F.B.I. Yeah, you read that right. Here in Illinois - the State I live in - We are required to apply for a Firearm Owners Identification card (F.O.I.D.) in order to purchase and or own a firearm, and guess what it requires? An F.B.I. background check. And when you apply for a Carry Permit? Yep, another F.B.I. background check. And when I buy a gun and show them my F.O.I.D. card (which acknowledges that I have already had a background check) yes... Another background check! And the gun show loophole?' This statistic is gathered from a rather dubious poll taken by the National Institute of Justice in 1993-94 using a sample size of 251 citizens. The poll was actually 34% with a +/- factor of 6%. So, pro-gun control advocates latched on to the 40% number, while in fact, it could have been 28% (and reading the poll itself, the numbers could have been appreciably smaller.) This same poll shows that only 3.9% of all guns purchased in America were bought at gun shows. So, if 3.9% of all guns were purchased at the aforementioned gun shows, and even using the high end of 40% were without background checks, then only 1.56% of all guns bought in the United States were without background checks at gun shows. If you figure the low end of 28% (34% - 6%) then that then that number falls to 1.09% of all guns. That, for all practical purposes, is one-in-a-hundred. Bureau of Justice Polls of prison inmates in 1991 and 1997 showed that less than 1% (0.6 and 0.7) of guns used in crimes were bought at gun shows Hmm... can you say "Mountain out of a molehill?"

John Boch  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 2:35 PM

Let me clarify: Patriots put a boot in the back sides of those who want to deprive us of our liberties and freedoms. Please add "two hundred thirty some years ago" before an unarmed Jim piddles himself.

John Boch  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 2:33 PM

Jim sounds pretty invested in the snake oil! We gun owners should just lay down and let our rights be taken away! --OH WAIT! This is America. Patriots put a boot in the back sides of those who want to deprive us of our liberties and freedoms. Go away Jim. Nobody wants gun control except nanny-state advocates, criminals and would-be tyrants (apologies for being repetitive).

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 11:16 AM

@ Bernie - as I look at that wonderful logo, I question whether that is a scale or a gallows? I have my opinion!

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 11:05 AM

@ Bernie, I designed one when we first started. A classic old Oak Tree with the tag line " one tree- Many nuts" in a circle around the tree. Hemingway was right " Oak Park - home of wide lawns and narrow minds"

Bernie Fife  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 10:55 AM

Ray, you really can't say that the 'responsibilities side isn't taking their role seriously and fairly over the last 11 months. After all, take a look at that cute logo they came up with. See those scale of justice? They look pretty balanced on both sides. It even says "Rights = Responsibility". So you see, all this talk about the panel being one-sided just can't be true. I'm sure Ken Trainor will be announcing the speakers for the "Rights" side any time now. We certainly have questions we would like to ask the pro-gun people, right? They're not going to get out of this that easy are they? The "pro-rights" people should cut the "responsibilities" people some slack. They have the nice logo. Why haven't the "rights" people been able to come up with such a cute logo? They had 11 months.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 9:34 AM

@ Jim - It is important to understand that this meeting is being run by a partisan, ideology driven group who have zero interest in the ideas or opinions of the pro-second amendment group. That is their right! The "gun rights" group tried to reduce gun violence statistics by defining the three groups that should be prohibited the possession or contact with firearms. They are 1: unsupervised children, 2: convicted felons and those with orders of protection against them, 3: people who have been found mentally incompetent. Get a handle on item three and the recent mass killing of innocents would not have happened.Children need to be trained in firearms safety if they are around any guns and they should know the "rules of the road" as a good practice. Knowledge not fear. All of these groups are already regulated by existing laws - just never enforced. If that is the case, what value will a new law, ordinance or regulation be? One mile to our east Chicago has the most draconian handgun laws in the country, yet, are always in the running for murder capitol of the world. Our objective was to try to develop a village ordinance that would define what can and what cannot be done in our town as well as a commitment from the village to prosecute those who do armed violence in our community. We never were able to get beyond that fool "Universal Background Check" Those of us who have gone through the FOID and NICS checks asked how this would work, who would pay for it and who would enforce it? Our answer was that those are the details that will be worked out later. "Pass the bill before you find out what is in it." I wonder if the Oak Park library would allow a seminar titled "More Guns Less Crime?"

Roy Kubicek  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 8:35 AM

Jim Coughlin wrote: " I visited the organization's website and found postings that were neither free nor fair. That's unfortunate because there does need to be a thoughtful discussion where both sides on the issue should be able express their views without being bullied, ridiculed or marginalized." I hear that all the time from anti-gun advocates and the first thing that happens when their ideas are questioned? Why a panel is set up w/ only one side being presented. Online, opposing views are removed the commenters banned, usually within minutes. This occurs on EVERY anti-gun page while pro-rights groups like ISRA and GSL allow opposing viewpoints from all sides. Everything else is a red herring.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 12th, 2015 12:32 AM

Ray, I am interested in learning more about the "rights" side that was expressed during the committee meetings. How was "gun violence" defined? Who is deemed to be most responsible? Which preventive measures would be most effective? I recall reading posts you have offered on this forum claiming that the current laws on the books are not be properly enforced. What current laws do you believe would be an effective deterrent and a viable solution? Are there any other additional requirements or restrictions you feel need to be considered as part of the discussion?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 8:57 PM

@ Jim - I spent 11 months on the gun rights/responsibility committee. The 'rights' side tried to define who caused the violence and how to keep weapons away from them. The 'responsibilities' side opted to propose laundry lists of sweeping legislation that would only impact those law abiding gun owners and have zero impact on the source of violence. As Ken Trainor reported in a column "we refused to give an inch" So how do you come to an agreement when one side is that dedicated to a path which we believe is intrusive and has no impact on the problem. Most of their proposals are a part of existing law and demonstrably ineffective. Many lacked the experience or knowledge of illegal gun ownership.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 7:32 PM

Ray , it sounds like you have some personal experience regarding panel discussion on the subject of gun violence. Angry words and ridiculous demands would be counter-productive and should be discouraged by those who are responsible for presenting the forum. Hopefully , distractions can be avoided and all participants encouraged to freely present their views. Explain your concerns about the recent referendum and why you believe those who call for federal legislation should consider opposing opinions. That may promote a dialogue where some common ground might be realized. Both sides of the issue have concerns about public safety. Sharing those views and building a consensus on the best way to achieve stated goals seems the logical first step.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 4:27 PM

@ Jim, Do you have any illusion that the stacked panel of this meeting will offer any fairness to the pro second amendment forces?. The original rights/responsibilities committee was originated by Dave Schweig ( Pro second amendment) to see if there was any common ground we could build upon. More than one meeting ended with angry words and ridiculous demands. The intractability and inability, of the responsibilities group, to see any value in an opposing view doomed the effort. This panel of experts is so slanted toward federal gun registration and eventual confiscation that they aren't willing to take questions based upon the presentation, but rather written questions that can be answered or ignored. Read the endless opinion pieces by Trainor and Heise and tell me there is going to be any evenhanded fairness in this kangaroo court.

John Boch  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 4:24 PM

Jim: We welcome everyone at our meetings, and they have an opportunity to express themselves (which is more than I suspect will happen at the Snake Oil Sales meeting coming up on the 18th). Our website's discussions aren't posted based upon freeness or fairness, but upon facts. We deal in logic and facts, not fears and emotions. As for comments left at Guns Save Life, we don't moderate those unless they are R-rated profane or express racial bigotry. People such as yourself are free to post all manner of misrepresentations and misleading information at

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 2:44 PM

John, you describe the Guns Save Life meeting as a free and fair discussion about guns. I visited the organization's website and found postings that were neither free nor fair. That's unfortunate because there does need to be a thoughtful discussion where both sides on the issue should be able express their views without being bullied, ridiculed or marginalized. The claim of not wanting to manipulate people and seeking an understanding of the truth does not ring true if the misleading and false comments posted on the Guns for Life pages are an accurate representations of your positions. The Oak Park meeting will focus on gun violence. Attend and share your views on that subject.

John Boch  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 1:29 PM

Mr. Trainor: You claim a groundswell based upon an ambiguously worded non-binding referendum? Do you think your readers are really that simple-minded? Mr. Trainor, you sir are a charlatan. You are selling the snake-oil of gun control. That magic potion doesn't work any more than the snake oil pedaled by generations of scam-artists that preceded you. Gun control is classist, racist, and sexist. I don't support those things, and I'm guessing 93% of you fellow residents don't either. You claim gun rights activists are extremists. Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. You sound as though you're leaning on the liberal side of the political spectrum. That's okay. The liberal thing to do here would be to support liberty by opposing gun-laws and other government control schemes. We need to progress toward a future of freedom not a system that re-enacts past tyrannies. Guns are tools. Guns protect children and families. Guns Save Life. I'll close on this: Unlike you, Mr. Trainor, I don't want to manipulate people. Instead, like other gun rights activists, I want people to understand the truth so we will all be better, smarter citizens. If you want a free and fair discussion about guns, I would invite you to the Guns Save Life meeting in Oak Lawn at the VFW there on Sunday, June 28th. Dinner and conversation begin at 4pm and the meeting itself begins at 5:30. All the best. John

Bill Wilson  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 1:06 PM

If you are not trying to take people's guns away, why are there so many gun grabbers on the panel.

Kevin Smith from South Holland  

Posted: June 11th, 2015 11:15 AM

The notion of a "patchwork" of laws among the states is a red herring. ALL transfers of firearms crossing state lines require a background check. Period. There is no "gun show loophole" A resident of one state, buying a gun in another state MUST pass a background check. Anyone not doing this is already breaking the law, and will simply continue to do so in the face of any "universal background check" law

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 10th, 2015 10:16 PM

I guess there are three of us who will not be joining the ground swell of ignorance. We can rest easy knowing that history, the bill of rights, law and factual common sense are on our side.

Dave Antonio from No  

Posted: June 10th, 2015 5:53 PM

So you are not out to ban guns or take our guns away right? Then why "Martha Rosenberg of the National Gun Victims Action Council on economic leverage against corporations and gun dealers"? On one side of your mouth you say "we aren't out to take your guns away" but at the same time you say "we want to make it harder/impossible for you to buy guns". Seriously, make up your mind. Stepping on your own tongue just diminishes your credibility. Why is there no one from the ISRA or NRA? You say you want a dialogue but this dialogue seems to be one sided. Was an invite sent? Please let us know. If they declined a legitimate invite perhaps their supporters can convince them to reconsider.

Tom Giovanni  

Posted: June 10th, 2015 5:11 PM

Well said Ray. I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation of how "universal background checks" will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The anti-gun (freedom) folks want to use "universal background checks" as a form of back door gun and gun owner registration. As Ray stated, Illinois already has the FOID card and the NCIS systems in place. What makes you think criminals buying their guns with money from illegal activities will go through the legal hoops a lawful citizen does?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 9th, 2015 10:01 PM

For those of you who plan to attend, remember that these speakers cannot admit that the people who commit the violence care not a wit about laws, rules background checks or any of the other balderdash you will be exposed to. They settle disputes by killing one another, sort of like inner city capitol punishment. In his swan song gun rights/responsibilities committee column Ken explained that the responsibilities side refused to yield an inch to the rights group, so we threw in the towel. Their best argument was to put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes real tight and hum so loud they blocked all logic. Illinois residents have 2 background checks and one of them is run by the FBI. Those who buy and own guns legally in Illinois are not the problem. The guy selling illegal guns out of his trunk behind the liquor store is!!! Every gun owner I know will join forces with anyone to prevent those sales and that access to illegal firearms. No firearm has ever injured anyone on it's own initiative - there is always a person behind the trigger - and we cannot get it through our skulls that that is where the effort should be.

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