Right thing to do

FI-EditorialAnyone who supports rational gun laws should be extremely happy with the Board of Selectmen for its support of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization.

First Selectman Peter Tesei added his name to mayors across the nation by signing onto Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and its efforts to lobby for congressional action on guns as an honorary member. This aggressive lobbying group, co-founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has made a name for itself in opposing the National Rifle Association and pressuring legislators to support what large numbers of people want, and that’s stronger gun laws that respect Second Amendment rights.

This action happened as a direct result of passionate advocacy by town residents in the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence who, after seeing the horrors of Newtown, didn’t just shake their heads and go “how sad” before continuing along, but took decisive action.

While there was never any doubt, given public statements, that all three members of the board support common-sense gun laws that do nothing to restrict legal possession of firearms and only make it harder for illegal sales and background check loopholes to take place, it would have been nice to avoid the confusion seen at last week’s meeting. For much of the meeting it seemed as though Mr. Tesei was unwilling to sign onto the MAIG statement of principles, preferring instead to sign a resolution put forward by Selectman David Theis stating Greenwich’s support for those same principles, including universal background checks and against military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition clips for civilian use.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Mr. Theis’ resolution. Its language was virtually identical to MAIG  and offered the opportunity for all three selectmen to sign, not just Mr. Tesei. But MAIG will only accept its exact principles. To offer an analogy, it would be like being sent to the store to pick up an avocado and coming back with guacamole. It’s exactly the same thing except where it’s not.

Fortunately, in the end, Mr. Tesei did the right thing and signed onto MAIG. This is a vital organization to pushing the debate over gun control forward and saying “enough” to the efforts of the NRA to block common-sense gun law reforms. No longer does the NRA represent legal gun owners. It is now the tool of weapons manufacturers who do not care what happens as long as that money keeps pouring in.

In the end it doesn’t matter who was confused over what and how many alternative motions were offered. What matters is that it got done. There was no doubt that Selectman Drew Marzullo was in favor of Greenwich joining in the effort. Additionally Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis were crystal clear in their support for these measures and it’s to Mr. Tesei’s credit that he compromised and signed the MAIG language.

Now if only the organization itself would show the same spirit of compromise and allow first selectmen and boards of selectmen and not just mayors to be active members. That’s needlessly restrictive and hurts efforts to build a larger consensus, especially in the New England area.

MAIG has been called a “far left group.” That ignores the fact that Mr. Bloomberg with his “stop and frisk” advocacy is no friend of liberals and that his ideas on fiscal matters would find him right at home among the Greenwich GOP. The thought that Mr. Tesei and Mr. Theis should have rejected this because Republicans aren’t supposed to support gun control is ludicrous. Huge numbers of Republicans support these laws, including Greenwich’s delegation to Hartford. It’s only the cowardly and deluded minority in the U.S. Congress that’s stopping action from being taken.

Newtown must not be allowed to fade into the past without reform of our federal laws. Greenwich took a major step by standing up to be counted in this fight and it’s to the credit of the citizens who pushed for it and the politicians who listened that it happened.

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