WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 22, 2013, 08:33 PM

Congressman Kevin Cramer puts together a gun violence panel in Fargo

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- There has been a lot of talk lately about how to curb gun violence in this country.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- There has been a lot of talk lately about how to curb gun violence in this country.

Many propose stricter gun laws and others for ways to deal with mental health. Congressman Kevin Cramer put together a panel this morning to talk about the larger issue of guns and violence in our culture.

Trying to pinpoint the reason one person might open fire on another is a daunting task. Lately, mental illness is at the forefront of that discussion - especially since the Sandy Hook shooter had mental health issues. But a panel speaking in Fargo outlined many factors that go into a violent act.

Nancy McKenzie/Mental Health America of North Dakota: "A mental health diagnosis in and of itself is not a huge risk for violent behavior. Persons with mental illness are much more often victims of violent behavior than they are perpetrators."

Congressman Kevin Cramer brought together a panel of law enforcement, mental health professionals, educators, even clergymen to discuss gun violence and gun control.

They brought culture, mental health, and family dynamics into the discussion on what causes gun violence… and what might prevent it.

Cramer: "I don't see a great legislative agenda that solves this problem, certainly not the cultural problems. Having said that, could we do more?"

At the center of the discussion was gun control. Many in the room were opposed to any sort of weapons ban, and some got up to speak their minds about how we should move forward.

Citizen: "We have thousands of gun laws in this country currently. If they were simply adequately enforced, it could have an excellent, significant impact on reducing violent crime."

Citizen: "The term I really hate is 'common sense approach.' What the hell is common sense approach? Your common sense may not be what mine is, and that's where our breakdown is."

The discussion may have brought out many potential causes of this violence, but solutions are still hard to grasp. Because cultural change is no quick fix.

This was Cramer's first "American Issues Forum." He plans to do a series of these discussions.