Paul Helmke
Former President and CEO, Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Presentation Title: When Will We Ever Learn? Gun Violence, Politics and the Second Amendment

point counterpoint part 1 logo

July 18, 2019
Luncheon sponsored by:

Luncheon Menu

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with shaved radishes and garlic-herb bread sticks

Vegetarian: Toasted Chick Pea salad with shaved radishes

about the speaker

Program Synopsis:  Since I last spoke to the Akron Roundtable ten years ago, we've seen more and more mass killings using firearms. But even with high profile shootings like Tucson (2011 -Gabby Giffords), Aurora (2012 - movie theatre), Newtown (2012 -Sandy Hook Elementary), Charleston (2015- Emanuel African Methodist Church), Orlando (2106 -Pulse Nightclub), Las Vegas (2107 - outdoor concert), Sutherland Springs (2017 - church), Parkland (2018 - Stoneman Douglas High School), and Pittsburgh (2018 -Tree of Life Synagogue), Congress refuses to take any action to change our gun laws. This presentation will discuss what needs to be done to reduce gun violence, the barriers to getting this done, and what individuals can do to make a difference.

Point/Counterpoint is a new two-part series offered by the Akron Roundtable in which speakers help create a public dialogue around important topics. These luncheons will occur in subsequent months, with a different viewpoint being explored on the same topic each month. The goal of these luncheons is to help people learn from each other, foster civil discourse, and build relationships.

Paul Helmke has been a “Professor of Practice” in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), as well as Director of the “Civic Leaders Living-­Learning Center” (CLC), at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN since January 2013. He was President of the Brady Campaign/Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, then the largest national, non­partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight for common sense gun policies from July 2006 to July 2011, and mayor of Fort Wayne, the second-largest city in Indiana, from 1988­-2000.

Helmke was selected by his fellow mayors to serve as President of the United States Conference of Mayors (1997­-1998). He was a Board Member and Committee Chair for the National League of Cities and President of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. He led both the Indiana and national Republican Mayors and Local Officials organizations and was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Indiana in 1998.

During the Clinton Administration he was appointed to serve as a member of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services’ “Violence Against Women Advisory Council” and of the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education’s “Advisory Council for School-­to-­Work Opportunities”, and also worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a special counsel.

After upsetting a two­-term incumbent in November 1987 with 52 percent of the vote, Helmke was re­elected Mayor in 1991 and 1995. Helmke was only the second person in Fort Wayne history to be elected to three consecutive four-year mayoral terms. His 64.5 percent of the vote in 1995 tied the largest margin of victory for a Republican in the city of Fort Wayne. As mayor, Helmke received national attention for his program of “Community­-Oriented Government,” his efforts to fight crime, redevelop brownfields, and as an advocate for urban interests. Under Helmke’s leadership, Fort Wayne was named an All-America City by the National Civic League in 1998.

Helmke has been quoted frequently in numerous newspapers and magazines (including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, TIME, and the Economist), and has appeared on nearly every national news outlet including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and C­Span, as well as “The Colbert Report” and the “Daily Show.” He was also a winner on “Jeopardy” in the early 1970’s.

Following his elementary schooling at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Fort Wayne, Helmke graduated third in a class of approximately 700 students at North Side High School. In 1970, Helmke received an honors degree, with highest distinction, in political science from Indiana University (Bloomington, IN). While at I.U., Helmke was selected to Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honorary, and was elected student body president. Helmke received his law degree from Yale University in New Haven, CT in 1973 (in the same class with Bill and Hillary Clinton).

Helmke practiced law with the Fort Wayne firm of Helmke, Beams, Boyer & Wagner for more than 14 years prior to becoming mayor. During most of that time period, Helmke served as an Assistant County Attorney for Allen County, IN. He also taught Communications Law at Indiana­-Purdue Fort Wayne in the mid­-1980’s. After leaving the mayor’s office, Helmke was “of counsel” with Barnes & Thornburg, Indiana’s largest law firm, for three years and then returned to his family law firm.

Helmke and his wife, Deborah, a retired public school kindergarten teacher, have two grown daughters and two grandchildren .The Helmkes have residences in Bloomington and Steuben County, IN.