(MA) Proposed article targets firearms


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Drizzt
January 8, 2006, 01:48 AM
Proposed article targets firearms
By Casey Lyons/ Daily News Staff
Thursday, January 5, 2006 - Updated: 12:54 AM EST

BOXBOROUGH -- The National Rifle Association has long championed phrases like, "Guns donít kill people, people kill people."

For a group of concerned residents in Boxborough, however, that same idea is focused more on prevention: before people with guns kill people, people should ban guns.

Suzanne Schmitt, a 17-year Boxborough resident, has drafted and gathered names on a petition to prohibit the discharge of firearms outright. By pounding the pavement and enlisting help, Schmitt convinced 109 Boxborough residents to sign on the line -- 89 more than are needed for a resident-driven article at the annual Town Meeting in May.

"We felt it was sort of a publicity issue," Schmitt said of her and her husband Stephenís efforts. "No one knew that we were doing this. Through the petition we spread the word that we thought this was important and should come up at Town Meeting."

Like previous gun-related issues, this one has origins in a December 2004 hiker and hunter confrontation on conservation land. When the hiker told the hunters about hunting prohibitions in the area, one hunter had reportedly said that bullets donít know the difference.

The incident touched off a debate in town about the continued appropriateness of hunting in an increasingly rural town. After several months of investigation, the trail safety subcommittee of the Conservation Committee concluded that hunting served a necessary purpose.

Unlike the previous thrust to limit hunting, this one seeks to prohibit the discharge of firearms in town, though with several exceptions.

To Schmitt, firearm discharge presents a threat to all residents.

"We thought it was a public safety issue that needed to be addressed," she said. "Itís difficult to control situations where guns are involved."

In the fall, Schmitt first took her concerns to the Board of Selectmen, who advised her to draft a citizenís petition and gather signatures

"They gave us the option to originate (a petition) and gather signatures and raise it in the Town Meeting warrant for discussion," she said.

Simon Bunyard, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, explained the boardís decision in urging Schmitt toward a citizenís petition, because not all selectmen were likely to support the issue.

"In order for the selectmen to bring something like that forward, the board would, in fact, have to believe it was the right thing to do, and then recommend to the town that itís the right thing to do," Bunyard said.

The Board of Selectmen has had no public discussion on the matter, and no votes have been cast. However, it would likely hold a public hearing on the issue prior to Town Meeting.

Bunyard said citizenís petitions are a mechanism that franchises individual residents.

"It gives citizens a lot of empowerment," he said. "I completely support the concept and the individualís right to bring something like this forward."

Over four weeks, from the end of October to just before Thanksgiving, the Schmitts hit the streets, going door to door and collecting signatures.

While Schmitt estimates a 2-1 or 3-1 support ratio for the public safety issue, others were less than thrilled with the prospect of limiting firearm discharge.

Some signed the petition because they felt it an important topic for public discourse. Others, challenged Schmittís claim, questioning the appropriateness and enforceability of such a bylaw change, she said.

As drafted, the proposed bylaw includes five exemptions: police officers using service firearms in the line of duty; ceremonial uses such as gun salutes by the Boxborough Minutemen Co.; contractors using blasting powder for demolition; and instances of self-defense. The final exemption makes provision for firearm discharge at shooting ranges.

Nuances, such as whether the ban applies to BB guns, air rifles or paintball guns, must still be decided and Schmitt is yet to determine if the bylaw would cover these more recreational uses as well.

Archery, however, is not proposed for prohibition, and the archery hunting season, the longest of the three deer hunting seasons, would remain intact.

The proposed bylaw also establishes penalties: first time offenders would receive a warning and a $50 fine would follow for any subsequent offenses.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=118486

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Standing Wolf
January 8, 2006, 01:53 AM
We felt it was sort of a publicity issue...

Yep. It's another opportunity to publicize hatred of people who keep and bear arms.

carebear
January 8, 2006, 02:52 AM
The incident touched off a debate in town about the continued appropriateness of hunting in an increasingly rural town. After several months of investigation, the trail safety subcommittee of the Conservation Committee concluded that hunting served a necessary purpose.

Increasingly rural town?

So it used to be more urban?

And are they hunting in town?

Come on reporter.... :rolleyes:

Manedwolf
January 8, 2006, 03:10 AM
"to prohibit the discharge of firearms outright"

...W...T...F?!!!

Oh, yes, I'm SURE criminals are going to abide by that, the same criminals illegally carrying guns in their waistband without a license, guns that aren't registered to them in the first place!

Because criminals respect all laws, right? :banghead:

thebigc
January 8, 2006, 03:23 AM
i have a freind who lives in boxbourough and has shot on his land many times as long as its the proper distance from the road and you have enough land to shoot on it should trump retarded laws like this.

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