Finding Common Ground

Finding Common Ground

Finding Common Ground

Saturday, May 19th, 2018, 2:00pm

A Symposium On American Culture, Gun Violence And The Second Amendment

Spurred by national concern about mass shootings, a symposium in Gloucester on Saturday, May 19, will put a fresh focus on gun violence, examining both the intent and application of the Second Amendment and the differences among us that led to an impasse in addressing the problem.

 The afternoon program, at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, is sponsored by the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation. It will include:

  • Students from Gloucester High School speaking about the growing youth movement against gun violence;
  • A presentation by former Essex County District Attorney Kevin Burke on issues surrounding the intent of the Second Amendment’s language on the right to bear arms and its application today;
  • Remarks by Mark Nestor, a Vietnam veteran who as commander of Gloucester’s American Legion Post 3 oversaw a unanimous vote by Post members favoring tighter regulation of firearms;
  • Discussion by Cape Ann clergy on the moral imperative for action with diverse approaches;
  • A panel discussion that will include John Rosenthal, a Boston businessman and Gloucester resident whose national organization, Stop Handgun Violence, campaigns to reduce firearms deaths.

The keynote speaker is Colin Woodard, author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North AmericaThe Washington Post described this book as “a compelling and informative attempt to make sense of the regional divides in North America in general and this country in particular.” said it “explodes the red state-blue state myth” and describes how conflicts between cultures “have shaped our country’s past and mold its future.”

This symposium is occurring as our country experiences outrage over the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and a powerful new youth movement is taking shape with the intent to make sure it never happens again. Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation vice president Sandra Ronan describes it as “an event to help restore civic dialogue by seeking common ground on an emotional and difficult subject.” Richard Prouty, a lifelong educator and former director of Project Adventure in Beverly, will be moderator.

The program begins at 2 p.m., is separated into four segments with 15-minute breaks, and will conclude at 6 p.m. with a ceremonial ringing of the church’s Paul Revere bell, for freedom. The community is welcome to attend all, or only some, of the segments. Written questions will be welcomed and reviewed for replies from the panel in the final segment.

The program is free with voluntary donations invited. Refreshments will be available. The event is part of the Meetinghouse Foundation’s 2017-18 Concert & Lecture Series. The nonprofit, IRS-recognized Foundation was founded to help preserve and increase public use of the 212-year-old Meetinghouse. The structure is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the church founders are recognized for their role in establishing religious freedom in Massachusetts, well before that guarantee was made in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Meetinghouse is located at the corner of Middle and Church Streets in downtown Gloucester and has easy access for persons with disabilities at the side entrance at 10 Church Street. Parking is available on the Meetinghouse Green, in lots nearby in the Central Gloucester Historic District, and at St. Peter’s Square.

Program Schedule

2:00-2:15Greeting/Ground Rules/Overview with Moderator Richard Prouty
2:15-2:30Voices of the Youth Movement: Gloucester High School students speak to the “Never Again” youth movement and specifically to the Parkland tragedy.
2:30-2:45Compatibility of Gun Ownership and Public Safety: Mark Nestor, attorney, Vietnam veteran, and Commander, American Legion Post 3, Gloucester.
2:45-3:00Break with refreshments.
3:00-3:25The Moral Imperative, Finding Real & Lasting Solutions: Panel discussion by Cape Ann Clergy.
3:25-3:45Meaning and Application of the Second Amendment: Kevin Burke, former Essex County District Attorney.
3:45-4:00Break with refreshments.
4:00-4:45Keynote Address: Colin Woodard, Author of “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.”
4:45-5:00Break with refreshments.
5:00-6:00Panel Discussion with Q&A: Panel comprised of a High School student, Mark Nestor, Kevin Burke, John Rosenthal and Colin Woodard, responding to written questions from the audience with summations at the end.
​6:00Closing: Ringing of the Paul Revere bell for freedom

Event Info:

  • Saturday, May 19th, 2018
  • 2pm to 6pm
  • Gloucester Meetinghouse
  • Tickets: None. Free to the public with voluntary donations


Gloucester Meetinghouse
Gloucester Meetinghouse, Gloucester, MA

Make a donation in support of GMF!

Make a contribution to the GMF to help in the restoration of the Green, the Tower, and the Meetinghouse!

Note: Gifts may be made in memory or in honor of someone. You will have the option to add a note to the transaction on the next page.