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Speakers Address Gun Violence at Akron Roundtable

a photo of Paul Helmke
Paul Helmke, former president and CEO of the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and three-term mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a professor of practice at O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

A gun control advocate says two provisions passed by Congress are prohibiting efforts to address gun violence.

Paul Helmke is the former president and CEO of the Brady Center, a nonprofit which advocates for gun control.

He spoke at the Akron Roundtable as part of their point-counterpoint discussion on gun violence.

Helmke, a Republican, also used to be mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

During his Roundtable presentation, he talked about legislation, such as the Dickey Amendment and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protect gun manufacturers from scrutiny.

“Congress, not only said you can’t sue the gun industry, they’ve also said that you can’t do any research at the governmental level on gun deaths, gun violence, gun control-type related issues. They want people to be in the dark as to what gun manufacturers do. I think we need to get rid of that legislation that gives them immunity.”

The Dickey Amendment prevents the Centers for Disease Control from using federal dollars to advocate or promote gun control.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed in 2005. It protects gun manufacturers from liability when crimes are committed with their products.

Helmke cites other countries where they’ve faced tragedies and created stricter bans on assault weapons, such as Australia and New Zealand.

But he also looks to countries where guns aren’t banned, but strongly regulated, like Switzerland.

Helmke on gun laws in other countries.

“Switzerland does have tons of guns. They regulate how much ammunition you have and they actually do an inventory. You have to account for every bullet that you’ve bought. You know, if we just went to a model where we’re treating this as something that has risk, that you’ve got responsibilities, that these are dangerous items.”

The point-counterpoint conversation at the Akron Roundtable continues August 15 with Larry Arn, the president of Hillsdale College, who will talk about constitutional rights.