Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Civil Conversation about Loaded Topic; OneVoice Hosts Talk about Gun Ownership, Violence in America

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Civil Conversation about Loaded Topic; OneVoice Hosts Talk about Gun Ownership, Violence in America

Article excerpt

Byline: Emelia Hitchner

The Three Layers Cafe on Walnut Street bustled one night this week with people holding a loaded discussion concerning gun ownership and violence in America.

At one point during the debate, Juanita Dixon, the speaker and a retired Jacksonville Sheriff's victim advocate, pulled a fake gun from her pocket and showed the audience.

"Things are not always what they look like," Dixon said, brandishing three more guns and a knife. "We have to be vigilant when we are trying to make a difference."

Dixon was one of seven speakers who shared their stories at OneVoice's Guns & Violence discussion.

Lawyers, teachers, military officers, and advocates - of both victims and gun rights - talked to an attentive crowd of more than three dozen.

Although opinions differed on gun laws, every person in the room agreed something needs to change.

Dixon said schools and the community need to nurture children at a younger age and discourage gang violence.

"This is the reality of what's happening in our school systems. Ninety-nine percent of the children who carry these weapons want to be a part of something," Dixon said. "The other one percent are in a serious economically bad situation."

Lawyer Cory Byrd, Gun Rights Attorney Eric Friday and President of Project Cold Case Ryan Backman agreed guns often fall into the wrong hands.

"It's not gun control, it's people control," Friday said.

Teacher Roel Escamailla blamed the lack of mental health initiative in the country.

Marc Crawford, a former Marine and JSO special weapons and tactics officer, said people no longer valued human life.

"This is a byproduct, where human life is no longer sacred in society," he said.

Although the topic was touchy and emotional, and opinions differed from liberal to conservative, the conversations were civil and informative. …

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