District 8 holds first town hall to discuss gun violence, get to root of problem

By Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio city leaders are trying to unite the community in an effort to stop mass shootings by getting to the root of the problem.

The first of three town hall meetings held by District 8 had more than 100 people in attendance at Phil Hardberger Park on Wednesday.

The discussion was meant to help the community find common ground on what the problems are in our society that are contributing to mass shootings and what control we can have as a community to do something to stop them.

The panel was led by a religious leader, a journalist and a mental health expert. The panel discussed the use of social media to spread hateful rants and how people need to take a step back and discuss disagreements face to face.

Mental health was also front and center in the discussion, and so was the education that needs to be implemented surrounding a topic that’s often stigmatized.

It’s also important, they said, not to use mental health as a scapegoat for hate.

Leaders want to assure the community that this is not meant to be a pro- and anti-gun debate.

Shelly, a woman attending the town hall because she’s worried about the direction things are headed, said, “The changes in our society have led to the violence that we’ve had.”

Jim Cisneros said he supports the Second Amendment and thinks mental health needs to be addressed. 

“This country was built on guns. That's the bottom line. But there has to be a better way to administer them,” he said.

Journalists also discussed whether the naming of the suspects involved in mass shootings encourages copycats.

Panelists said the bottom line is that it’s not as simple as taking the guns away, but rather talking about the real issues and anger that divide communities.

The dates for the two other town halls have not been announced.

WATCH: Aug. 14 District 8 town hall on gun violence prevention

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