By Kathleen Malecki
During the 2016 MNA Convention, a resolution regarding gun violence prevention was updated and passed by the House of Delegates. In response to that resolution, GAC members joined Protect Minnesota to lobby at the legislature to defeat four really terrible bills and we were successful. This fall Protect Minnesota together with the School of Public Health at the U of M, Minnesota Public Health Association and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum put on a conference on gun violence. The Board voted to help sponsor the conference and three GAC members attended.
I am at a loss to summarize all the useful information absorbed at this two-day conference. It was a thorough and concise description of the problem, the root causes, the barriers to addressing the problem, and a myriad of available, workable solutions that we could be implementing nationwide. I attended six breakout sessions, two plenary sessions plus lunchtime panel discussions. It was an intensive education. At the risk of over-simplifying, here are a few highlights:
- Gun Violence is a PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS: we can address preparedness, prevention, and recovery as we would in any crisis.
- Community trauma is NOT NORMAL: put people into relationship; redefine public safety; demand accountability by outcome not just by intent; be persistent in pursuit of solutions; reconsider neighborhood revitalization; see victims on both ends of the gun.
- Engage ALL the stakeholders: we live in diverse community; we can engage the principles of fair process together.
- Advocate at ALL levels of government: put MONEY into the solutions to gun violence; actualize commonsense gun regulations.
- CHANGE YOUR MIND-SET to “I love my life”: peace is a life-style; mindfulness and meditation calms and renews energy; yoga and exercise calms us; natural settings, loving persons, music, art, and spirituality have healing properties.
- There is a NEUROBIOLOGY OF TRAUMA and there are effective interventions: (ACE) Adverse Childhood Experiences have a profound effect on developing brains and still have a profound effect years later; the imprint of trauma on mind, body, and soul CAN BE TREATED.
- Racial bias can be reduced via positive experiences with persons with whom we hold a bias; we can change; we are not inflexible; be in relationship; be in community.
Until gun violence is negligible in our national culture, we will continue to lose people and global credibility. What kind of nation tolerates and inculcates gun violence to the degree that America does! It is oppressive.