Inside the Episode: Shira Goodman & Josh Prince Gun Debate

The Parkland, Florida school shooting case hit me hard.  A good friend of mine, Diane Danois, lives in South Florida and her step-daughter is a student at Stoneman Douglas High.  It shouldn’t take knowing someone who is going through the trauma and post-trauma of a mass shooting for such an event to register so deeply, but that is what happens, right?

And now, these moments when the entire country focuses together on yet another tragedy inside a school, when every parent watches with the terror of imagining – “That could be me” or “That could be my daughter” – these moments occur with such regularity, it seems, that we can’t help but feel more and more connected.


So I have been looking for a way in to the conversation.  And I was so grateful that two prior guests agreed to do an episode together.


Shira Goodman has served for many years as the Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence.  She is passionate and articulate and recently she declared her candidacy for Congress from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania’s 4th District (according to the newly re-drawn Congressional District map for PA.)  Shira is a compelling advocate for stricter gun control laws.


Joshua Prince, a lawyer with several office locations in Central Pennsylvania, specializes in 2nd Amendment litigation, representing gun owners, gun shops and others with a focus in this area.  Josh is staunchly pro-NRA and a 2nd Amendment absolutist.


So when we brought them together, the sparks flew.  The hour-long debate was respectful but heated.


My great concern going into the episode was that there is so much talk now, but little agreement on even the most basic terms in the national conversation.  What is an assault weapon?  What kinds of things are part of the existing background check system?  What is a bump stock?

The first part of the episode, therefore, is devoted to understanding the gun control landscape as it is now.  Then we turn to possible solutions.


I don’t know if our debate is any indication of what is to come or not.  We didn’t reach any agreement on the various proposals that are now on the table – raising the age to buy certain firearms; expanding the background check system; imposing “red flag” laws that would allow for temporary suspension of someone’s right to possess a gun; banning certain classes of weapons, like AR-15s. 


Josh is admittedly a staunch advocate of gun rights.  When I asked if there were any gun control measures he could support, he said he would support arming teachers in schools.  That isn’t exactly what I had in mind.  But it may show that real change is only going to come when enough “gun rights” legislators can move to some place where they can find room for compromise.

We shall see in the coming weeks and months.  In the meantime, please give a listen to the full episode, here:  [link]   Do share your feedback, comments and the like. 


If you want to go back to see my conversation with Shira and Josh from last summer, here are links to those episodes as well: 


Shira Goodman:

Joshua Prince: