Gun sense, gun reform, gun control, whichever term you prefer to use, this is the primary issue in America right now. We currently find ourselves in an extremely pivotal moment regarding this debate, and it appears a tipping point could be coming. Amidst this potential sea change, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif) and Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr will lead a town hall style discussion on gun violence in America with high school students from seven different schools across California’s 17th district.
Gun violence is an issue that definitely hits home for Kerr, as he was just 18 when his father, former President of the American University of Beirut Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated by gunmen in January 1984.
The event, which is expected to be attended by 2,000 people, will take place at Newark Memorial High School in the events center starting at 3:45pm PT on Monday, 3/12. It will also be live-streamed on Rep. Khanna’s official Facebook page.
Khanna granted us an exclusive interview ahead of the event, and you can listen to audio of that below:
Since the town hall was announced, two more prominent leaders have been added to the list of attendees: Mike Thompson, Member of Congress (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and Matt Deitsch, Community Outreach Director, Never Again.
Ro Khanna was elected to office despite his refusal to take any money from PACs or lobbyists. The California representative for Silicon Valley discussed the path towards getting away from the special interests dominance of our political arena.
“We need to have grassroots mobilization and social media is a huge part of it. We’ve seen with Bernie Sanders’ campaign people having small dollar contributions and he raised more money I think than any of the presidential candidates,” Khanna responded.
“You see now Emma Gonzalez, or some of these students, they have a million Twitter followers. They have a much higher name ID 95% of us sitting in Congress, and they didn’t spend a dime.”
“I think with the decline of broadcast television, the money required for that medium, and the rise of websites like yours, where my talking to you is going to be more effective or as effective in communicating the message as putting a 30 second TV ad out, I think that will change our democracy; we’ll see more and more candidates saying we don’t need the money from these special interests. We can win without that.”
“I won my seat in Congress without it and others have been taking the pledge of not taking PAC money or corporate money; around this country.”
While almost all of America is in favor of universal background checks, and other common sense gun laws, the current gun regulations remain ridiculously lax due to special interest groups like the National Rifle Association. Although the NRA may be small in numbers, they have an extremely engaged base of single issue voters and a simplistic message of negating any and all regulation that makes their interests disproportionately powerful.
However, we could be reaching a major turning point in the conversation now, and it’s the youth who are making the difference and driving the discourse forward. People like Steve Kerr are the types of individuals who can reach the young people in America and Ro Khanna pointed that out.
“I said to him, no member of Congress or Senator is going to get through to young people and continue this activism more than you (Kerr). Far more young people look up to you and know who you are; and (asked him) would you will be willing to speak to high school students? Because we have this unique moment where finally something can get done on gun violence,” he said.
“Sure, he said, and I thought wow! They’re in the midst of the season, competing for homecourt advantage, and I thought I guess we’ll see if this really comes through, but he texted me the next morning and said, I really want to do this. Within a week we got everything set up.”
When you look at the reach of Ro Khanna and Steve Kerr, coupled with the current passion and focus on this issue, there can be no doubt that the eyes of the nation will certainly be on this town hall today.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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