by Patty Dineen
The December, 2012 shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut re-ignited public talk about what "we" as individuals, and especially, what "we" as a society should do about it. Can we do anything to prevent the next one? Can we identify likely future shooters? Can we make public places safer without turning such places into prison-like settings? Would we have to give up some cherished personal freedoms in order to get the results we seek? These and many other questions are being asked, discussed, debated, and argued about.
This public issue--what can, and what should we do to prevent this kind of violence?--as we all know, is presently being framed by many entities; media, interest groups, government, experts, and individuals in all segments of our society. You might think that would be enough, but we don't think it is. The National Issues Forums Institute has a 32-year-long interest in a particular kind of issue framing; that is, framing a public issue in a way that can help people deliberate; or carefully consider a spectrum of approaches to dealing with the issue. Deliberation also requires unflinching consideration of the possible consequences, costs, and tradeoffs inherent of each approach.