Held at Temple Enumah on the 8th of April, the Lexington Gun Violence panel featured speakers discussing recent gun politics and legislative action. Co-hosted by Follen Church, the panel discussion featured Attorney General Maura Healey, Chaplain Clementina Chéry, founder of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, activist My’Kel McMillen and Lexington High School sophomore Emily Weinberg. Spending a large part of the discussion on the impact of gun violence on communities, specifically minority communities, as well as the true effect of student walkouts and nation wide marches on legislative change, the panel touched on resounding issues. Attorney General Healey made sure to point out, to a room of potential voters, that legislative change could only take place once protests were coupled with pragmatic action, such as phoning government representatives and lobbying bills and reform acts.
Similarly, discussion turned to the correlation between strict gun laws, such as those of Massachusetts, and a decrease in gun violence. Keeping with the effects of legislative change in correlation to geography, Chaplain Chéry brought up the disproportionate effect on gun violence on low income neighborhoods, and how taking this into account was key to solving for the root cause. Calling it “a cultural transformation,” they elaborated on how a recognition of racial justice falls hand in hand with getting military grade weapons off the streets. Furthermore, the idea of fiscal support from federal, combined with local resources and nonprofits was key to aiding victims of gun violence, specifically those who faced it on a daily basis (ie: students in majority- black, latinx communities) was a point made. Student activists, including Emily Rosenthal, a student at Clarke and member of Lexington Says Enough, questioned how younger children would be able to get involved. My’Kel McMillen suggested that younger students could be involved by making the process “fun”; starting book clubs, and interacting with them in such a way that it would not overwhelm them. Devesh Pathak, a sophomore at the high school, asked how to involve those with a different interpretation of the 2nd amendment in the conversation. Attorney General Healey responded by saying that protections for public health are not a “zero sum game” or mutually exclusive with the second amendment. Incorporating gun owners into the conversation is key to bipartisan legislative action. The panel discussion ended with closing remarks by the participants, and a round of applause for student activists.
This event was covered by various media outlets: