Can we talk? 12 Voices in 12 Hours all day today

Daylong conversation on school safety and gun violence

Tim Wenger
March 03, 2018 - 8:40 am
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - As the the saying goes, can we talk?  Just talk?  Not debate, get in one anothers' face or close our ears?  That's what I'm hoping happens Monday on WBEN as we set aside twelve hours of programming to discuss the issues surrounding school security and gun violence in America.  It's a broadcast day you can tune into and out of as your schedule permits, however every hour will be posted as an individual podcast here on wben.com after it airs.

For twelve hours Monday 6a to 6p, one hour and guest at a time, we will ask questions and listen to answers and challenge them to go deeper.

Listen LIVE here

EARLIER VOICES ON AIR TODAY:

After the  painful tragedy of the Parkland school shooting spree,  a national conversation has emerged about what we can do to help prevent future similar tragedies and identify threats.  And, unfortunately since we can't realistically completely prevent these types of incidents, the conversation is also directed at how we can better deal with them when they do occur to limit the casualties.

The hard part about this 'conversation' is that while most people want to have it, most walk away from it as soon as ideas are presented that go against their own personal thoughts and beliefs on the issues.  Most 'cable news' conversations go 'ugly' in a hurry and simply build a brick wall between two warring sides.  Unless that changes, nothing changes.

There have been calls for "debates" on gun issues following the Florida tragedy, across the country and right here in Western New York.  A debate will solve nothing other than promoting a political or politicians' agenda.  We don't think we need a debate.  We think we need to advance an adult conversation.

This broadcast is, by design, is not laden with politicians who are looking for a spotlight.  But it will, in the end, include some thoughts from some willing members of our Congressional delegation who may well be charged with advancing legislation that could impact us all.

On Monday we will address some of the bold headline issues that dominate the news since Parkland:  banning assault-style weapons, whether or not to arm some teachers and mental health intervention.  But we'll spend as much time or more on the issue of mental health and identifying individuals or groups who we should all be concerned about and what we can do to help them before it gets to a deadly flashpoint.  We'll spend a good amount of time talking with law enforcement about how they train to handle these incidents and how they unfortunately plan for them, handle them and react to them afterward.

The conversation Monday may make you uncomfortable at times Monday if you're listening.  There will be thoughts and ideas that don't align with your personal beliefs and thoughts on the subjects at hand.  But to advance change, meaningful and helpful change, you need to understand those who disagree with you and hear them out.  They too, need to do the same.  And, hopefully in the end, we all find areas of mutual interest and agreement that help us as a society advance some changes that can impact the quality of the American experience.

Some of the people and organizations you'll hear from Monday include the FBI, local law enforcement agencies who have dealt with active-shooter situations, education leadership, the mental health community and numerous aspects of gun safety, laws and advocacy.

I thank and applaud everyone who you will hear from Monday.  While you would think identifying and finding twelve individuals who are willing to discuss these issues would be easy, it was anything but.  While some had legitimate scheduling issues, many invitees dodged our attempts to include them or simply would not even respond to the request.  In the end, those who you hear from Monday, are all people and organizations who we should thank for being willing to participate in an important and urgent discussion.

So, let's not debate.  Let's talk.  And listen.

    - WBEN Operations Manager Tim Wenger

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