Panelists talk gun violence at UNL - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Panelists talk gun violence at UNL

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By: Megan Palera

Gun violence has been a hot topic since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary. Tuesday night, a group of Nebraska leaders were asked, point blank, what can be done to stop it?

It was a packed house at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as the second amendment and gun violence took center stage. The 2 hour discussion included a panel of law enforcement members, lawmakers and gun advocates.

State Sen. Mark Christensen was one of the seven panelists. Over the years, he's introduced several bills to protect the rights of gun owners. He even suggested the U.S. take a page from Israel's book by putting an armed guard in every school.

"You can legislate morality but if people don't follow them, it does no good. Same way, if you try to take guns away from innocent people, all you'll end up with is guns in the hands of the criminals. They never give up the guns," Christensen said.

But Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel disagrees. He says more guns isn't the answer; instead we need to build better people.

"It's character development. It's creating a nurturing environment. It's working with resource officers. That's how we solve this long-term from a school perspective," Dr. Joel said.

Then there's the issue of mental health. Many on the panel argue gun violence is a mental health issue and more resources need to be available.

The Omaha police chief stressed the need to end gang shootings and regulate access to guns.

All different opinions, but no right or wrong answer. But the group feels together, the community can make a difference.

"Sometimes the difference that we've got is very small and it's a matter of semantics. And it's a matter of finding those things and finding how to work around them that we're gonna be able to fix problems," Andy Allen, a lobbyist with the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association said.

The event was sponsored by UNL's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.


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