| 03.18.2018

Rallying for reform — Moscow Peace Coalition advocates changes to Idaho gun legislation


The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School incited a discussion of gun violence in communities nationwide, including Moscow, and the Palouse Peace Coalition is organizing a rally to advocate reforms to gun legislation in Idaho.
“Idaho Stands Up Against Gun Violence” will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday in Friendship Square. Bill Beck, a member of the Palouse Peace Coalition, said the organization has been advocating against U.S. violence toward other countries for 12 years. The Sandy Hook shooting was the tipping point of recognizing the violence in America’s own society, Beck said.“We are interconnected as a society and we want to raise awareness that we’ve got a problem and the levels of gun violence in our country are not acceptable,” he said. “The first step is standing up and speaking out and the second is working with others to find a solution.”
The coalition is advocating three main reforms: to ban the sale of military style assault weapons, to prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and to require universal background checks for every gun purchase closing all loopholes, including gun shows.
Beck said the coalition does not expect to end gun violence altogether, but hopes to raise awareness and stimulate dialogue about possible regulations. The rally will feature local speakers and musicians, and Beck said all they are asking of participants is to listen. The rally is especially significant in Idaho, which is a conservative state where guns are prevalent, Beck said.
“America has a real tradition of guns and gun ownership, but also a real tradition of violence against others,” he said. “We are looking at any steps we can take to show violence against anyone anywhere is not acceptable.”
City of Moscow Mayor Nancy Chaney said one of Moscow’s strengths is how engaged community members are in voicing their opinions on issues.
“We have that reputation for being well informed on issues and strongly opinionated on issues and sharing those opinions in the forums that invite it,” Chaney said.
Chaney said last week in Washington, D.C., she was invited to be a panelist on gun violence with the mayors of Philadelphia and Aurora, Colo. Although gun violence in Moscow is different than in Aurora or Philadelphia and less prevalent, Chaney said it still matters.
Chaney said the main concern with gun violence in Moscow are impulse acts, and local shootings within the last few years prove it is an issue. Gun violence is a societal problem, and Chaney said it is important for University of Idaho students to be involved in the discussion.
“We all live in communities, we are all parts of families, we all have some level of social engagement and how we interact with each other as human beings matters to everyone whether they are students or not,” she said.
Alan Rose, a member of the Palouse Peace Coalition and former UI professor of French, said the rally is an opportunity for everyone, including UI students, to show the Idaho legislature they feel strongly about the need to reform gun legislation.
“Students are such a huge part of the community and our future leaders,” he said.
Rose said guns are such an integral part of American culture that it’s not reasonable to take them away completely, but he believes reasonable reforms exist. In order to stop the trends of gun violence and mass killings, Rose said both sides of the gun control debate need to compromise on limits that make sense.
“The purpose is not to hold a rally to say ‘No guns in America,’ that doesn’t make sense,” he said. “We are trying to appeal to everyone, including gun owners. It’s a chance to show the Idaho legislature they really feel strongly about this.”
Chaney said the rally is a way for people to reasonably voice their opinions, despite it being an emotionally charged issue.
“I hope we can have a civil discourse about firearms and not have it be made threatening or frightening to people who want to be engaged in the political process and the civil discourse that is part of our nation’s founding,” she said.
Elisa Eiguren can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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