Neighbors Discuss Ways to Reduce Gun Violence

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG -- The local chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation held a public forum on ways to reduce gun violence on Wednesday.

At the forum, panelists from different fields discussed ways to curb gun violence. Members of the public also participated in the forum with comments or questions.

Ella Massey Pascale who lives in Harrisonburg spoke to the panel about having more gun control laws.

She said she learned very young, the tragedies that can be caused by the misuse of a firearm.

"I'm speaking as a person who lost my grandfather because my father at the age of four picked the gun off the wall and killed him," Pascale said.

She said she agrees with the current administration's proposals to curb gun violence.

"I agree in the ban of anything but basic weapons," Pascale said.

Benjamin MCleod said the system shouldn't punish responsible gun owners.

"Yes, there would be people that would make mistakes, there would be people that would make bad mistakes and kill people. But we already have a system that punishes evil doers and that should be enough for what it is right now," MCleod said.

Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst said the most violent cases in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are not gun-related.

However, she said it's alarming that most recent gun violence cases involve young people.

"We have seen a lot of people coming back to parties and instead of fighting shooting," Garst said.

She said some of them have previous felony records or are affiliated with gangs.

"They are in a situation where guns are popularized and they're indeed not afraid at all at using firearms," she said.

Garst and Crossroads Mental Health Support Coordinator Dwayne Martin encouraged people in the community to take some action.

"If you're truly passionate about this whole bigger picture, mentor a child, become a foster parent and change the life of one person," Martin said.

During the forum, Martin talked about the need of limiting the access to gun to those with mental health illnesses.

Garst said there is a local crisis intervention team that is working to fight mental health problems.

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