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Guns and America will take place on Friday at the Crook County Library

The Second Amendment has long been a lightning rod for debate, spurred by gun violence throughout the country, ongoing school shootings and more.

This Friday, local residents are encouraged to discuss their views on the right to bear arms at the Crook County Library where guest speaker Pancho Savery will host Guns and America.

The event is the first of four conversation projects sponsored by Oregon Humanities that will take place at the library between now and March 2015.

“I think it is a topic of strong interest in our community,” said Barratt Miller, the library assistant director. “I think it’s a fairly popular topic in general. People tend to have very, very strong feelings about the topics of access to guns and gun control. They are on very polar opposite ends of the spectrum.”

The conversation project will take place just half a month after a school shooting incident in Marysville, Wash., and several months after the Oregon Legislature considered several gun control bills. However, Miller did not pick the topic in response to any particular event.

“I just knew that we have a large amount of people who love to hunt in the region and that there a lot of people who are very, very interested and passionate about discussions related to gun reform,” she said.

Miller explained that the goal of conversation projects is to encourage communities to come together and civilly discuss different issues. To that end, Savery will try to lead the event in as neutral a manner as possible. Miller noted that speakers typically present whatever information they have gathered on the topic, offer their views, then raise questions to spark discussion among audience members.

“It is exploring the whole concept of the Second Amendment and what made it different for the Founding Fathers to call it out separately,” Miller said. “So the presentation is really designed to get people talking and to hopefully do it in a public place that might bring people together who wouldn’t otherwise come together.”

Miller acknowledged that such a polarizing topic makes complete objectivity all but impossible. “We are all human beings shaped by our experiences,” she said.

Nevertheless, she believes the forum will encourage people to share their beliefs in a productive way.

“Obviously, you can have strong feelings about something and listen to other people speak about their feelings and have a respectful dialogue,” she said, “Which is not always something that easily happens around this particular issue.”

Guns and America: Exploring the Second Amendment will be held at the Crook County Library on Friday, Nov. 7, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event is free to attend.

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