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Panel talks gun safety

— About 200 people braved a cold, bitter night on Thursday, Jan. 24, to converge upon Ballston Spa High School with one question in mind: How do we keep our kids safe in school?

That question and many more were the highlights in a School Safety Forum sponsored by the Saratoga County League of Women Voters.

In her opening comments, LWV President Patricia Nugent reminded the audience of the recent Newtown, Conn., tragedy and at the same time challenged the seven forum panelists and audience members to try to find solutions to make schools safer for children.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” she said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Tonight we are not silent, this matters,” she continued. “Our kids are counting on us to protect them, to educate them, to love them enough to do something.”

Moderator Susan Arbetter, who hosts “The Capitol Pressroom” and is the director of news and public affairs at PBS station WCNY, addressed the new gun control laws recently passed in Albany and issued her own challenge.

“How do we find a balance as a community that we’re comfortable with?” she asked. “How do we all live and work together in a safe community where everyone’s rights are protected? From the person who owns a firearm, to the person who sends their child to school, from the right to protect your home, to the right not to worry about a stray bullet killing your child.”

The seven experts included educators, the state PTA president, a mental health expert and members of law enforcement, who all addressed concerns about gun violence in schools and explored ways to keep the children from becoming “collateral damage” in wake of the ongoing gun control debate.

All of the panelists had their own views and ideas on how to solve the problem, but one belief they had in common was the need for communication.

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