Community Issues

First Congregational held a panel discussion on multiple points of view on gun violence on May 2.
The speakers (listed below) presented background on local and national gun violence and local and state gun laws and reported on the roots of gun violence and its connections to family problems and drugs. They also presented some possible solutions to gun violence, including changes in the law that could help curb gun violence and approaches on the prevention level.
The speakers:
Thom Collier, former member, Ohio House of Representatives
Mary Hendrickson, Director of New Directions, Domestic Abuse Shelter of Knox County
Toby Hoover, Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
Rick Schlegel, Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Freedom Center of Knox County
Cpt. David Shaffer, Knox County Sheriff's Office
Rev. R. Keith Stuart, minister, First Congregational UCC
Summations of the speakers’ presentations, and other information, will be posted as it is made available.

Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence

The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, (OCAGV), Started in 1995 from a group of concerned community citizens after the death of a young man in a drive by shooting.  Our concern for the danger to our young people motivated us to form a local committee that evolved into a statewide non-profit organization.  OCAGV is the only statewide organization in Ohio that is single focused on preventing and reducing gun violence. We do that by through education, advocacy and public awareness.

Over the years we have worked with other organizations, schools, faith leaders and health professionals to further our mission. We have presented programs in schools, given away gun locks, educated parents, held dozens of press conferences and regularly do media interviews and speak and debate at community events. OCAGV is a 501c non-profit that is an educational organization that limits our lobbying legislators to a small amount of our time.  By law we are not allowed to endorse candidates and are non-partisan.

From our beginning we strived to find issues that would fit our mission to reduce the violence. Soon after we started the bill to allow people to carry loaded hidden guns into public places was introduced in the Ohio legislature. For nine years we were successful in postponing the passage of this bill. In 2004 the law to allow carrying loaded guns in public was passed as long as the person had a permit to do so. There were many safeguards that we were able to add to the bill so that the results at least had some reasonable restrictions but year after year the gun lobby has weakened the bill by removing parts of the law ruling  where, how, and who may carry and any information the public can know about the people carrying  these guns. In Ohio the bill to allow guns in places that serve alcohol is the latest step of the gun lobby’s slippery slope to their goal of no regulations on firearm owners. Our petition campaign to have the Governor veto guns in bars is linked on our website at    

OCAGV belongs to a national organization of states and partners with all of the national groups that work on the issue. I have provided a handout for you to look at that will give you information on each of them. We are all currently working on two regulations that we think will reduce gun violence. One is a national bill to prohibit the sale of large capacity clips that can hold over 10 bullets at a time. The magazine/clip capacity the shooter used in Arizona to kill 7 people and injure another 13 allowed him to do all of his damage in less than 15 seconds.
The second thing we are working on is improving criminal background checks on people that are purchasing guns. The law mandates a background check when buying a gun from a licensed dealer but is not currently required for private sales. This loophole legally furnishes traffickers and prohibited persons with firearms.

OCAGV works for reasonable regulations on firearms. It has been determined in the last few years that the Second Amendment gave individuals the right to have a gun in their home for protection. With that they also said that the ruling was not absolute and that regulations were needed and allowed.  We do not take a position on hunting or sports with firearms. We do continue to educate on firearms in the home and the carrying of them in public that puts our families at additional risks. There are no organizations within the gun violence prevention movement that  are working to ban or confiscate guns.

I am also a survivor of a gun violence victim. Our children were very young when he was killed in a robbery. There is no way to describe the shock, pain and scars that violence leaves on the families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and the community of each victim. After an experience of losing someone you love to violence you have two choices. One would be to fear everyone and the other was to work on prevention so that it does not happen to others.   I choose the second one.

Thank you for working for non-violence.    

National  gun violence prevention organizations and campaigns: Brady Campaign,, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, , Fix Gun Checks,,  Keep Guns Off Campus, ,Legal Community Against Violence, , Mayors Against Illegal Guns, , States United to Prevent Gun Violence, , Violence Policy Center,