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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Newtown shooting prompts Saratoga forum on guns and children safety

When something terrible happens, the impulse is to do something about it — to try to make sense of it, to learn from it, to turn it somehow into something positive.

The random acts of kindness springing up nationally and locally (thank you, Jenny Witte, whose mamatoga blog is also on, and others) are examples sparked by the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

The massacre has also generated much discussion about gun control and keeping children safe.

Pat Nugent, president of the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, recognized this opportunity and has quickly organized what she hopefully describes as “a solution-based community forum to stop the bloodshed in and out of school.”

The Saratoga league, along with its Schenectady County counterpart and The Saratogian, are co-sponsoring a forum title, “For the Children: Keeping our Children Safe from Gun Violence in America.” Other leagues in the area may also become involved.

The forum is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Ballston Spa High School, 220 Ballston Ave., Ballston Spa.

“We wanted to hold this at a school,” Pat told me Friday.  

The league has positions about gun control, but the forum is not designed to push one point of view. Rather, the goal is for the session to be informative and helpful. What can we do, as citizens? And I am interested in the perceived role of the media and what that role ought to be.

Invited organizations will likely include the New York State Association of School Resource Officers, the state Parent Teachers Association, local mental health providers, and statewide League of Women Voters control control lobbyist, and representatives of the media.

Issues to be addressed will include what precautions are currently being taken in schools and any plans to intensify the effort; how parents are mobilizing and how the community can help; can the characteristics of the shooters be identified and the tragedies averted; what political action is needed; what should the role of the media be, and how can they “stop feeding the beast.”

The Saratogian and the leagues will provide more details as they become available at and Questions and suggestions may be addressed to or to me at

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