As the debate on how to prevent gun violence continues, much of the discussion centers on legislation and big-picture concepts.
But what about things anyone could do, right now?
That's what will be discussed at a Jan. 12 community forum organized by Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi.
The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at East Middle School and feature a panel with Scaffidi, Police Chief John Edwards, U.S. Attorney James Santelle and County Executive Chris Abele.
Scaffidi is inviting many others, including Sikh temple members, the Interfaith community and mental health and community violence experts.
The mayor has been outspoken about the crucial need to come up with solutions to gun violence — even if it means receiving vicious hate mail, like he has since joining the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.
As the mayor of a city that went through a mass shooting this year, Scaffidi said he feels an obligation to be an active participant in the debate.
"I was not going to let what happened here just slowly fade into oblivion. We're going to continue to reinforce messages that actually make a difference, whether it's this, whether it's cultural awareness, all of those things," he said.
"That's my role. That's my commitment I made to the Sikh temple."
Last week, Scaffidi joined other mayors, including those in Aurora, Colorado and Blacksburg, Va., on a conference call with Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading a task force seeking remedies for gun violence.
He said when Biden asked him for feedback, he advised the vice president to "give people real things they can do right away" — just what this forum seeks to accomplish.
"We don't have to wait for gun legislation," said Scaffidi, who himself owns two guns used for hunting.
Attendees at the Jan. 12 forum will be given a list of 10 things they can do, or questions to answer, to combat gun violence.
- If you have guns, are they stored safely?
- Do you know who to call if you notice something or someone that doesn't seem right, to either help that person or safeguard the community?
- Mental health: if you or someone in your family are not getting the support you need, where can you go?
Those topics and more will be discussed at the forum. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and afterward talk 1-on-1 with guests.
Scaffidi knows the event won't solve the issue overnight, but feels it's a good starting point.
"I wouldn't be doing my job, or any an elected official or leader wouldn't be doing their job, if they didn’t try to find simple solutions to what can be complex problems," he said.