In the wake of recent tragedies involving gun violence, a local college is doing its part to encourage discussion in the community.
IU-South Bend hosted a public forum this morning inviting both students and community members in on the debate.
The purpose was to move dialogue forward, giving folks the opportunity to share life experiences with different backgrounds.
"Often we just talk to people who agree with us, and that won't move the discussion forward. And so, we like to bring in members of the campus and community, from different perspectives, together to try to move that discussion forward and maybe hear something you haven't heard and think about something you haven't considered before," said Professor Elizabeth Bennion, the organizer of the forum. .
The session focused on recent mass shootings, and asked participants whether there is a policy solution to gun violence. Other gun-related topics included questions like, "do we need more gun control?" "More gun access?" "More mental health screenings?"
Three panelists moderated the deabte, including Dr. Jim Hurst, a psychologist on campus. He focused on the mental health debate.
"The key, in terms of especially for mass shootings, rests not in expecting mental health professionals in a one on one setting to make some evaluation and prediction of violence, but rather working as a team," said Dr. Hurst. "It's so important that peple know who to talk to, and that they push themselves to share that information, even if it winds up being something that serious, that's a decision for that threat-assessment to make."
Even though the goal of the forum was to spark debate and encourage different opinions, participants did agree on one thing- a public forum is a helpful solution.
"More people need to understand our government than just accept it is what it is," said Drew Pooters, an IUSB student. "There should be more town halls on this subject period."
Another IUSB student said, "The more ideas you get to more people, the better the public discourse is and the best ideas would float to the top ideally."
Tim Zerbel, a community member said, "Too much time is being spent debating on 'I'm right and you're wrong,' and it needs to be how can we define a solution to this problem?"
"We live in a democracy which means the people should be making decisions and we need to do that collectively", said Professor Bennion.