Scene in Edmonds: Student safety and gun control debate

The topics of student safety and gun control are among the most polarizing discussions today. Those topics came to The Edmonds Center for the Arts Tuesday night as radio station KTTH hosted its latest Freedom Series talk titled “Guns and our Children.

The event featured a lively debate between gun rights proponents and KTTH radio hosts Jason Rantz and Todd Herman, and KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht representing gun control supporters. The debate was moderated by Q13’s Brandi Kruse.

When asked what he hoped to accomplish during the two-hour discussion, Ross said, “I want to see whether there is any real chance of coming up with an approach that makes it harder for the wrong people to get – and use – powerful weapons.” He also stated he believed there was common ground: “I’m going into this assuming everyone believes that school shootings are a problem that deserves a serious solution.”

Rantz expressed a similar hope in his desire to “find common ground where we can, since everyone has the shared goal of keeping students safe.” He also expressed a desire ensure the conservatives were fairly represented and to address “false narratives” which could lead to ill-advised laws.

The debate was lively and often light hearted. The panelists treated each other with respect, and the largely conservative leaning audience was attentive and polite. At the end there was time for questions from the audience.

The discussions included arming school personnel, raising the age to buy rifles, banning certain weapons or accessories and enhancing school security with more resource officers.

Asked if he thought he had achieved his goal, Rantz said yes. He felt he had presented the conservative position clearly which he believes is necessary to ensure an honest debate.

In the end, both sides were able to find several points of common ground.

–Story and photos by Karl Swenson

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