Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), leader of the House Democratic task force formed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, will open up the discussion of what to do about gun violence to the public this week. And gun rights advocates are planning to be on hand to make sure any talk of gun control is held in check.
Thompson is scheduled to host three “Gun Violence Prevention Forums” in his northern California district this week. As a preview of the congressional hearings he plans to lead in Washington later this month, the forums will showcase his plan to bring together stakeholders to discuss a broad range of responses to Newtown, including new gun control legislation.
Members of Congress have been wary of public town hall meetings in recent years, following the rise of the tea party back during the 2009 health care debate. Thompson was heckled by tea party conservatives at one memorable town hall in April of that year.
The congressman, who was once named one of “8 Surprisingly Pro-Gun Democrats” by Guns & Ammo, may be opening himself up to some protest over the gun issue. Gun rights activists in California are calling on gun owners in the state to show up to Thompson’s events and make their voice heard.
In keeping with Thompson’s promise to take a holistic approach to preventing gun violence after Newtown, he plans to host experts from law enforcement, mental health, and schools, as well as local elected officials at the forums.
It’s a model Thompson may suggest fellow members of the House Democratic gun task force replicate in their districts, adding open public debate into the sometimes vehement battle over gun laws in the wake of Newtown.
Thompson’s House task force is running separately from the presidential taskforce chaired by Vice President Biden, which is expected to produce a package of legislation by President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Thompson’s task force plans to release its set of what staff call “comprehensive policy proposals” in early February.