'Let's Talk Guns' series sets stage for dialogue

'Let's Talk Guns' series sets stage for dialogue

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The first session of the "Let's Talk Guns" series took place at the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church Tuesday.

Teachers, military veterans and those who have lost loved ones to gun violence all in one room, for one reason.

"This isn't an anti-gun or pro-gun conversation.  This is a dialogue among many perspectives," said the church's Pastor Mel Martinez.

A dialogue she hopes will give people a place to come together and talk about the impact guns have on our lives, no matter their point of view.

"I am a gun owner, and I see gun violence as a real problem," said Pastor Mel.

She wants these talks to bring people together as a community.

"If we can be the facilitators of making sure that people can get into the same room and talk to each other, and find some common ground so that we can make some real change," she said.

She adds, if they can save even one life, then it is worth all the time and effort.

Joshua Lancaster came out to the discussion, one he says he feels neutral about.  He is grateful for the opportunity to talk and listen.

"I think people should be allowed to just talk freely about it, not be so one-sided about it," said Lancaster. "Have their opinions, not to push on other people just to put on to the public."

Bianka and Vern Landavazo, whose 13-year-old daughter was shot and killed walking home from school more than a year ago in Wichita Falls, is hoping this will open the door for change.

"We certainly have strong feelings about guns for very personal reasons, but we are not anti-gun people," said Vern Landavazo. "We are firm believers that life is not just black and white.  Life is a lot of gray areas.

He said those gray areas are where people need to come together and compromise.

The Landavazos will speak at the next discussion. 

"To make sure that we do everything we possibly can; that no other parent has to feel this; that no other parent has to lose a child the way we lost Lauren," said Vern. "It was just so unfair what happened to her."

The sessions will be on May 29th and June 9th from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Community Church at 1401 Travis St.

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