Rep. Kevin Yoder sat down in a closed-session “community roundtable” Wednesday with a select group of around two dozen people representing different viewpoints in the discussion over how to address school shootings and gun violence in America.
The event, which was not publicized and not open to the press, was hosted by the Olathe Police Department and moderated by Erin Dugan of KidsTLC.
In a statement posted on his Twitter account after the session ended, Yoder said that is was “clear to me that the roundtable participants agreed that as society changes, there is not one solution or an easy answer to these challenges we face,” and noted that some participants had offered “legislative suggestions they believe might help make a difference in curbing gun violence.” Yoder said he planned to review those suggestions and “keep this discussion moving forward so we can come to a consensus around policies in which both gun rights advocates and gun control advocates can believe.”
The four-term incumbent drew criticism from the student organizers of the local March for Our Lives rally when Yoder declined to participate in a town hall they hosted last month. Four Students Demand Action – Johnson County members — Alicia Granados and Genesis Garcia-Flores, who attended JC Harmon High School; rising Blue Valley North senior Taylor Mills; and rising Blue Valley West senior April Ma — attended Wednesday’s roundtable.
The group posted Ma’s account of the roundtable on social media after it concluded. That document is embedded at the bottom of this post.
Yoder’s office said it did not have permission from all participants to release a full list of names of the attendees, but photos posted on Yoder’s Twitter account show Shawnee Mission Director of Safety and Security John Douglass and board of education member Deb Zila in attendance.
Yoder’s office noted that Mike Brown, the owner of Frontier Justice, a firearms dealer with a location in Kansas City, Kan., and Jo Ella Hoye, the Kansas volunteer chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, were both in attendance. Republican state Reps. Melissa Rooker and Sean Tarwater, Jr., also attended.
On her Twitter account, Rooker said the roundtable represented a “true cross section” of viewpoints on gun violence that allowed for “listening to students, teachers, school shooting survivor, parents, law enforcement & lawmakers to find common ground.”
“Productive discussion helping foster better understanding of very different points of view,” Rooker wrote. “I view it as progress on a difficult topic – adaptive change requires this kind of dialogue.”