Josh Horwitz & Kayla Hicks in Media Matters For America

We talked to experts about how debate moderators can stop asking lousy gun violence questions

Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence urged moderators to discuss actual policy proposals in the gun violence prevention movement, something that people have vetted, as opposed to fears that a nationwide gun buyback program will lead to confiscation. Horwitz suggested asking candidates about their support for extreme risk protection orders as a way to reduce firearm suicide, and permit to purchase laws which he says have been proven to be more effective at reducing gun violence than background checks.

Kayla Hicks of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence said any debate questions on gun violence need to be “evidence-based” and be inclusive of communities that have been historically underrepresented based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, or religion. Hicks pointed out that homicide is the “leading cause of death for African-American boys and men ages 15 to 34,” and “young Black females ages 15-24 are nearly 7 times more likely than their non-Hispanic White counterparts to be murdered by firearm.” Given those facts, she suggested moderators ask candidates about the “social factors” that are “both the root causes of gun violence and are exacerbated by gun violence” such as “the relationship between gun violence, poverty, and inequality.” Hicks also cautioned that candidates should be asked to explain how they would “ensure that underrepresented groups will not be negatively impacted (including any unintended consequences)” by their approaches.

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