McGovern Center to host panel on gun rights, mental health

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Poster for discussion on gun control

The McGovern Center and McGovern Engagement Group at Dakota Wesleyan University have assembled a panel discussion on gun rights and young adult mental health in America.

“Triggers: A Critical Conversation About Guns and Mental Health in America” is set for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, in the DWU Sherman Center. This event is free and open to the public.

This forum will feature short presentations by John Gruber, a consultant for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and former senior organizing manager for the Brady Campaign; Glen Caroline, director of the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division (joining via livestream); and Matt Christiansen, clinical psychologist with Avera Medical Group and expert in teen and community mental health.

“The McGovern Center and our student McGovern Engagement Group believe it is important to discuss these relevant and important issues in ways that are civil and engaging,” said Dr. Alisha Vincent, executive director of the McGovern Center. “We believe in the value of listening to all sides of important issues, like this, in order to learn from one another, allowing us develop informed perspectives. We anticipate hearing two very different perspectives on gun ownership as well as learning more about how our country is impacted by mental health. We recognize that the world we live in today has many challenges and that we sometimes need to be more intentional about providing and understanding balanced perspectives on intense topics. We hope that this forum will give the audience a chance to do that.”

John Gruber is a gun violence prevention activist, organizer and speaker who currently consults for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICVH) – an organization focused on reducing gun violence in Illinois. Prior to ICHV, Gruber worked for three years at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence as a senior organizing manager where his work included: leading Brady’s Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers campaign, managing the successful 2016 ballot initiative in Nevada to expand background checks to all gun sales, spearheading Brady’s work in Chicago, and managing the organization’s national field program. Gruber routinely represented Brady in the press and at speaking engagements and worked with Katie Couric on her gun violence-focused documentary, “Under the Gun.” In addition, Gruber led Brady’s on-the-ground response following the mass shootings in Mother AME in Charleston, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and the shooting recently in Las Vegas. Before joining Brady, Gruber worked as a regional field director in Bridgeport, Conn., on Gov. Dannel Malloy’s successful reelection campaign; DDC Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.; and for Organizing for America in Ohio in 2012.

Glen Caroline serves as director of the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, which is comprised of 17 staff members, stationed out of NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., as well as in key regions throughout the country. He develops and implements NRA’s political and legislative grassroots programs, as well the association’s campaign field operations, voter registration drives, and Get Out The Vote campaigns at the national, state and local levels.  He is responsible for the recruitment, training and mobilization of the Association’s 255 Election Volunteer Coordinators (EVCs) nationwide.  Since the 2008 elections, Caroline hired, trained, and supervised more than 100 campaign field representatives, who coordinated and managed on-the-ground grassroots campaigns among gun owners in targeted congressional, U.S. Senate, statewide, and state legislative races nationwide.  He has coordinated and conducted scores of legislative and campaign training workshops in dozens of states.  Caroline has also served as a federal liaison for the NRA, where he lobbied nine congressional delegations and coordinated NRA’s PAC activities for federal elections in those states.