A Lexington, Massachusetts resident who wants to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in a community known as the birthplace of American liberty said town leaders are urging him to back off the controversial proposal.
The Boston Globe reports that Robert Rotberg, the founding director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Intrastate Conflict, submitted a citizen’s petition for the upcoming annual Town Meeting that would prohibit the manufacture, sale, ownership, or possession of specific weapons in Lexington.
“We’re not taking anything away,’’ said Rotberg, a Town Meeting member for 41 years. “We’re strengthening the rights of Lexingtonians to be secure in their private houses and less fearful of people spraying bullets at them.’’
The proposal has drawn the attention of gun rights advocates, who are urging Lexington residents who oppose such limits to attend the Town Meeting discussion April 6 at Battin Hall, just a few blocks from where the Battle of Lexington took place in 1775.
Rotberg said the Board of Selectmen recently asked him to reconsider the proposed bylaw change and instead submit a nonbinding resolution. Rotberg said he plans to meet with the board Tuesday in the Cary Memorial Building to discuss the potential compromise.
“The selectmen have asked me to consider this change in order to provide for a more orderly Town Meeting discussion on April 6 and to reduce the possibility of a confrontation,” said Rotberg, president emeritus of World Peace Foundation.
Police Chief Mark Corr said in an e-mail that he is recommending no weapons be allowed in or around Battin Hall the night of the Town Meeting debate. He said metal detectors will be used to screen those entering the hall.
“The Town Meeting is a lawful assembly that must be able to debate and vote upon articles without unlawful interference,’’ he said. “Although the overwhelming majority of e-mails, websites, and blogs have been respectful, there has been hate speech and comments that give me good reason to suspect someone might consider disrupting the Town Meeting.”
Joseph Pato, a selectman, said board members haven’t discussed the potential public safety impact. Rather, he said, the board thinks a resolution, not a bylaw, is simply a more appropriate avenue for the proposal. He said gun control laws are “something that should be handled at the state level.’’ If Town Meeting did approve the bylaw, the state attorney general’s office would review it and rule on its legality.
Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL)of Massachusetts, said the state has among the toughest gun control laws in the nation and there is no need to go further. He also said Rotberg’s proposal would ban guns that are commonly used for competitions, hunting, or training.
According to GOAL, the proposal seeks to ban any semi-automatic rifle or handgun that has a removable magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds. It also seeks to ban any magazine that holds 10 or more rounds.
Wallace said it doesn’t make sense for individual communities to approve their own gun laws. “As much as we don’t like state laws, the state needs to be in control,’’ he said. “You can’t allow local municipalities to create a patchwork of laws across the state. That’s just untenable.’’
Read the whole story here.
FYI: Me thinks Rotberg is going to receive a lot of pushback on this. From the Town of Lexington web site: “Due to the increased number of applications in the state, it can take up to 5 months to receive a firearms license.”