Meaningful gesture

FI-EditorialIf all goes according to plan, the Board of Selectmen sometime this year will be asked to add its name to the effort known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and it has a duty to do so.

A petition drive is underway by the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence and, while no time frame is set, one could reasonably expect them to bring this petition to the selectmen within the next few months. If the selectmen agree then Greenwich would join a drive led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to not only advocate for expanded background checks and ammunition limits but tough enforcement of weapons trafficking laws. This is a national lobbying group unafraid to face off with the National Rifle Association and has participants of all political leanings united to make our country safer through smart gun laws.

Selectman Drew Marzullo has already said he’s on board with this effort. Selectman David Theis has said he would like to hear a presentation about the specifics before deciding, and First Selectman Peter Tesei has indicated the same thing. That’s more than reasonable. The selectmen should not just automatically agree to something without hearing the details, but a vote on this is coming and it should be done with an open mind.

If the presentation from the coalition is convincing, and it is extremely likely it will be, the selectmen should sign onto this effort without delay. This is a vital ongoing effort and Greenwich should be a part of it. Newtown is not only a community close to us on the map, it’s one very much like Greenwich. And it could just have easily been this town to suffer such a horror.

That’s not to say that it’s the Greenwich Board of Selectmen that’s been holding up real gun law reform on the federal level. The selectmen do not make law on issues like this. That’s the state’s job, and the state did a tremendous job putting together smart bipartisan legislation to make it more difficult for people who wish to inflict harm to get guns. Action in Congress is not awaiting Greenwich’s blessing. This would be a purely symbolic gesture.

But that doesn’t make it any less important. This would be the Board of Selectmen saying that it believes rational gun control can help prevent the next mass shooting, and that it stands with the victims of such violence.

This is about people standing up and prioritizing the health and well-being of our citizenry over the ability to buy a military-style weapon that serves no purpose but to kill quickly. This is about saying “no more” to congressional inaction and paralysis. Despite the best efforts of our congressional representatives, two of whom are Greenwich residents, action at a federal level was defeated by a Republican filibuster as enough members of that party thought it made more sense to listen to Ted Nugent and Glenn Beck rather than Newtown families, and stoked baseless NRA-sponsored fears about gun registries and law-abiding citizens having their guns seized. Mayors Against Illegal Guns stands up to those lies.

This shouldn’t even be a political issue. Only in today’s hyperpartisan society where anything supported by President Barack Obama must be defeated would protecting children from gun violence be stopped in a political fight. This goes far beyond party lines, and rational gun control is supported by many Republicans, including Greenwich’s delegation to Hartford, all of whom supported the state’s efforts.

The Board of Selectmen signing onto this effort will not magically fix the problem, nor will remaining on the sidelines. It would be a small gesture, but a meaningful one. It would show Greenwich is part of the solution.

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