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Ann Ewbank's picture

Discussion Draft for the Resolution on Gun Violence - your feedback wanted

Dear ALA Community,

A resolution about the subject of gun violence was passed at the Membership Meeting at ALA Orlando 2016. In accordance with ALA procedures, when the resolution came to ALA Council, they directed the Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee to establish a working group to continue to work on the resolution.

We are inviting all ALA members to provide the working group with feedback on a discussion draft of the resolution. This document is attached. It is by no means final and the working group will consider comments as they continue their work.

You can comment on this ALA Connect post to share your feedback. Or if you wish to share your feedback anonymously, please visit this form: https://goo.gl/forms/M90eDWOr1fAo4m9p2

Please comment or fill out the form by 10/21.

Thank you,

Workgroup Members

Ann Ewbank, COL Chair, co-facilitator
Pam Klipsch, IFC Chair, co-facilitator

Melissa Cardenas-Dow, EDI Implementation Task Force Co-Chair
Aaron Dobbs, LITA Councilor
Aimee Fifarek, Arizona Chapter Councilor
Martin Garnar, EDI Implementation Task Force Co-Chair and IFRT Councilor
Laura Koltutsky, SRRT Councilor
Mike Marlin, Executive Board
Eric Suess, Councilor-at-Large, former IFC member
Christian Zabriskie, Councilor-at-Large, COL member

ALA Staff:
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director, OIF
Adam Eisgrau, Managing Director, OGR

Deborah Caldwell-Stone (staff)'s picture

Copying and moving Doug's Comment from other post ....


Doug Archer (observer) on Wed, 09/21/2016 - 3:15pm

In the interest of encouraging discussion, I am re-posting from an earlier list.  I am happy with progress that has been made so far by the working group.  They have obviously worked long and hard to bring us this draft revision.  At the same time I'm still hoping that they will find a way to address the Congressional "ban" on funding of research on gun violence by HHS.

Several of us (if not many) were very concerned about seeing it included in the resolution during the committee discussions at Annual.  My attitude was, if we as librarians can't speak up on a research ban, what can we legitimately speak on?

Since Annual, I have had a chance to look further into the issue and see that the "ban" is not quite as simple as I thought it was.  That's why I continue to hope that the working group can find a way to address it cleanly and forcefully -- but will understand if they can't.

Put as simply as I can at the moment, the ban appears to be a ban on promoting gun control with federal funds.  It is hard to imagine gun violence research that doesn't result in some type of advocacy of greater gun control.  Hence, there seems to be almost unavoidable trouble for the researcher and an unwillingness for HHS and the CDC to go there.  A muddy, murky, mess.

Consequently, if best efforts fail, a new, separate resolution on the "ban" might be the way to go.

Best wishes,

Doug Archer

ALA Council at Large
IFC Member

J. Douglas Archer Reference & Peace Studies Librarian 246 Hesburgh Library University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556 574-631-6656 voice | 574-631-8887 fax archer.1@nd.edu | www.nd.edu/~jarcher

- See more at: http://connect.ala.org/node/257600#sthash.bDYhQzPy.dpuf


Diedre Conkling's picture

To be honest, I would rather that ALA not adopt any resolution than have this draft resolution be approved.

It is disappointing not to have more of the original resolution incorporated into this resolution.  This has become the weak resolution that often comes out of the Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee.  This resolution has no teeth and is too general in the way it addresses the issues.

I am particularly sorry not to see these resolve clauses from the original resolution included:

"4. calls on Congress to lift restrictions that prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies from conducting gun violence research as a response to library communities in crisis;

5. resolves to advance the idea of libraries mitigating violence in our culture by serving as “safe havens” for the public, as evidenced during the recent uprisings in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, and by offering public education opportunities that advance the notion of libraries as perpetuators of peace."

These are strong statements and really address the issues. 

Instead you have given us weak statements that don't have the same impact:

"2. Calls for increased funding of comprehensive, authoritative and credible research on the causes and effects of gun violence;

4. Encourages libraries to engage their communities in open conversations around all aspects of guns in society."

I know that some at ALA are afraid of the NRA and they are afraid that saying anything that they might not like would affect library funding.  I actually don't think the NRA will pay that much attention to us but even if they did it is time to call them on their bullying tactics.


Diedre Conkling's picture

Because the working group did not share with us the original resolution I am sharing it here:


2015-2016 ALA CD#45_62516_ACT
2015-2016 ALA MMD#4_62516_ACT
2016 ALA Annual Conference


Whereas on June 12, 2016, 49 people were murdered by gunfire in Orlando, FL, the host city of the 2016 Annual ALA conference;

Whereas the safety and security of all communities served by libraries across the United States are constantly threatened by unexpected and potentially lethal gun violence;

Whereas the safety and security of workers in, and patrons served by, libraries of all kinds in all areas of the country are vulnerable to unexpected and potentially lethal gun violence;

Whereas the incidence and scale of gun murders and other gun violence in the United States are far greater than those in any other advanced country;

Whereas that incidence and scale are directly affected by the ready availability of guns (handguns, assault rifles, etc.) in the United States due to lax gun laws, the absence of sensible gun control laws, and the efforts of the gun lobby and the manufacturers of guns to resist these controls;

Whereas ALA passed a Resolution on Gun Violence in 2015 spurred on by the 9 people , including our colleague Cynthia Hurd, murdered by gunfire in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015; and

Whereas the only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing and to remain silent;
now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA), on behalf of its members:

1. extends its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the 49 people who were shot dead at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and to all the families and friends of the thousands of victims of gun violence;

2. deplores the gun violence that materially affects the communities we serve;

3. works with other professional associations to support sensible and effective and national gun safety laws, oppose “gun friendly” state legislation, in particular any legislation that permits the carrying of guns in or near libraries and schools;

4. calls on Congress to lift restrictions that prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies from conducting gun violence research as a response to library communities in crisis;

5. resolves to advance the idea of libraries mitigating violence in our culture by serving as “safe havens” for the public, as evidenced during the recent uprisings in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, and by offering public education opportunities that advance the notion of libraries as perpetuators of peace.

Sherre Harrington's picture

I have always been proud of ALA's bravery in being a force for social justice. I'm pleased to see the association's earlier, forceful language from the 2016 Resolution Calling Upon Libraries to Build More Inclusive Communities restated in a resolution on gun violence. I'm pleased to see new language in the draft resolution calling for comprehensive, authoritative and credible research on the causes and effects of gun violence.

But unless language from the original resolution calling for ALA to work with other professional associations to support sensible and effective national gun safety laws, and to call on Congress to lift restrictions on funding research on gun violence, I, for one, would be embarrassed to be affiliated with it in any way. The association should be embarrassed to put forward such an anodyne, cowardly statement.

I know people who believe in the importance of this language have tried hard to bring forward a strong statement, but if it is impossible to take a meaningful stand on this issue, we should just let it die.

Sarah Hammill's picture

I don’t have anything to add to the resolution, but want to say that I approve of the resolution, especially the call for increased funding for research.
Nancy F. O’Sullivan
Research and Instruction Librarian
Emmanuel d’Alzon Library
Assumption College
Worcester, MA

Sarah Hammill's picture

I have to say that I was not expecting to, but I like this resolution.  It is a good follow-up to the resolution passed last year and encourages funding for research that is sorely needed.  While I generally do not like ALA taking positions on issues outside of librarianship, this one impacts libraries in many communities around the nation. 
Dave Tyckoson

Jo Rolfe's picture

Coming into the conversation quite late - In general I agree that strong statements are more likely to be read and included in discussions than insipid ones, however the revised version is not, in my opinion, either insipid or ineffectual. It is a call for funding research on gun violence wherever the source of that funding might be. I would add that this resolution is clearly a response to any entity that suggests there is currently no evidence for the need to formally and actively address concerns about gun violence in public spaces (as has been the stance of the NRA).

If we name the dates and times of the recent gun crimes the entire document could become out dated as more incidents sadly and inevitably occur. I would ask the group - is this resolution a one-off statement or designed to stand in perpetuity, or until research is completed? To stay relevant a generic demand for research would perhaps be more helpful with the stated expectation of timely action. 

The crimes provoke understandable outrage. I have found that intense or highly emotional proclamations of point of view are more easily dismissed than well considered and reasoned argument with specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound stated goals. Could the resolution include the ALA's  financial contribution or skin-in-the-game with regard to practical research practice? That would speak to credibility of the organizational position taken.

I deeply value and appreciate the emotion behind the original verbiage of the resolution. I don't know anyone who is not viscerally effected, appalled and horrified by these events. Channeling that passion for a resolution on desired outcomes with attention to legal matters and reasoned language is perhaps going to have more reach.

Respectfully submitted,


Jo Rolfe, Director
Camarillo Public Library
4101 Las Posas Road
Camarillo, CA 93010
Office: (805) 388-5225
Scott Walter's picture

As a former Councilor who was involved in the debate over the gun violence resolution at Annual, I am sorry to see that the will to stand up for a simple principle such as support for freedom of inquiry (as represented in the proposed language related to federal support for research into gun violence) continues to be thwarted by fear of the NRA. As others have noted, if we cannot join other professional and scholarly associations in support of the basic freedom to conduct research (often using library resources and service), and cannot clearly advocate for the identification as libraries as places that should be exempt from open-carry protocols (in support of our users and our staff), then I find it difficult to see what we will stand for. In today’s U.S., I fear there is little of substance that is not subject to partisan debate, and so I don’t see how Council will draw a line between this issue (in its specific, LIS professional context) and others.
Like others, I am very disappointed to see attempts by some Councilors to draw lines between our members by suggesting that academic librarians have less a stake in this than public or school librarians might. As an academic librarian keenly aware of the impact of politics on direct funding for higher education, funding for research, and funding for our students – all of which might be subject to partisan pressure – I know a straw man argument when I see one. I hope Council will not let such an argument sway opinions, and I hope Council members will find the strength to stand up for the principles that served as the foundation for the original resolution.
Scott Walter
Personal Member & former Councilor-at-Large (2013-16)

Scott Walter, M.L.S., Ph.D.
University Librarian
DePaul University

Alfred Kagan's picture

Statement on Draft Gun Violence Resolution


As either participants in the drafting of the original 2015 gun violence resolution and/or endorsers of the subsequent 2016 Diversity Task Force resolution, we make the following joint statement:

 1. The first drafts of the June 2015 resolution which was eventually passed by the ALA Council started out calling for “…sensible and effective and national gun safety laws…,” and opposing “gun friendly” state laws. That broad statement was very unfortunately eventually narrowed down to “…work with state chapters and affiliates to support legislation that allows the prohibition of the carrying of guns in or near libraries and other educational institutions.” (2014-2015 ALA CD#45_63015_10:00am_FINAL)

 2. The 2016 Membership Resolution introduced by the Diversity Task Force retrieved the language from that early 2015 draft as noted above in calling for gun safety laws and added excellent additions against restrictions on government research and advancing libraries as “safe havens” for the public in order to mitigate gun violence.

 3. The current discussion draft resolution refused to address the dire need for federal gun safety laws, fails to address specific restrictions on federal government research, and abandons the concept of libraries as “safe havens.”

 4. In light of the continued murderous gun violence against African-American communities across the nation, now a new police killing every 2 or 3 days, the draft resolution is a shameful abdication of responsibility. It appears to reinforce the notion that ALA must be afraid of the gun lobby (NRA) because it can sabotage other library-related legislation in Congress. In contrast we assert that ALA must directly oppose the gun lobby. We think that the ALA Membership is way ahead of the Working Group and the ALA Council on this issue.

 5. We therefore call for the reinstatement of all the resolved clauses in the original 2016 Membership Resolution (2015-2016 ALA MMD#4_62516_ACT).


Diedre Conkling, SRRT Coordinator

Kenny Garcia, SRRT Action Council

Jane Glasby, Mover, 2015 Gun Violence Resolution, Immediate Past ALA Councilor-At-Large

Sherre Harrington, Feminist Task Force, SRRT Action Council

Mark Hudson, SRRT Action Council

Al Kagan, Seconder, 2015 Gun Violence Resolution, Immediate Past SRRT Councilor

Charles Kratz, SRRT Treasurer and SRRT Action Council

Laura Koltutsky, SRRT Councilor

LaJuan Pringle, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Task Force, SRRT Action Council

Nikki Winslow, Past SRRT Coordinator, SRRT Action Council


Melinda Baumann's picture

The original resolution represents a much stronger statement. Let's not choose this moment to be weak.

Doug Archer's picture

I have no problem with what is in the draft and again thank the group for their hard work.  However, l believe that the draft leaves out an adequate, principled stand on funding restrictions on HHS and CDC research into gun violence. 

This situation is similar to our principled objections to section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.  We've never opposed the act as a whole but have focused our opposition on those sections directly related to libraries.  These HHS and CDC restrictions (pre-judging research outcomes and prohibiting their distribution) also directly contradict our core values.  Therefore, they are legitimate objects of our concern.  

I offer the following additional whereas and resolved clauses for the working group's consideration as a possible means of addressing this lack.  If any of the details are inaccurate, I'm sure that the Washington Office can correct them.

= = = = = =

Whereas many professional associations including the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychological Association and several members of Congress have called for the removal of funding restrictions on research into gun violence conducted by Health and Human Services in general and the Center for Disease Control in particular (e.g., H.R. 3926 (2015-2016), the "Gun Violence Research Act"), and

Whereas even former Representative Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) co-sponsor of the original 1996 appropriations rider prohibiting the use of CDC funds to advocate or promote gun control has called for the repeal of these restrictions as barriers to needed research, [footnote]


The American Library Association calls for the repeal of language that effectively though not explicitly restricts funding of research on gun violence conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services including the Center for Disease Control;


Is Gun Violence Research Advocacy?  Appropriations Restrictions on Using HHS Funds to "Advocate or Promote Gun Control", CRS Legal Sidebar
January 23, 2013
American Law Division (CRS)


J. Douglas Archer Reference & Peace Studies Librarian 246 Hesburgh Library University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556 574-631-6656 voice | 574-631-8887 fax archer.1@nd.edu | www.nd.edu/~jarcher