Selectmen thanked for efforts to reduce gun violence

Jonathan Perloe, at right, a member of the Greenwich Coalition Against Gun Violence, gets a handshake from Selectman David Theis after presenting him and colleagues First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo with thank you cards for their support of efforts to bring universal background checks for weapons sales. —Ken Borsuk

Jonathan Perloe, at right, a member of the Greenwich Coalition Against Gun Violence, gets a handshake from Selectman David Theis after presenting him and colleagues First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo with thank you cards for their support of efforts to bring universal background checks for weapons sales.
—Ken Borsuk

The Greenwich Coalition Against Gun Violence continued its effort to thank its supporters on Jan. 9 when members of the group came before the Board of Selectmen.

At the meeting, coalition members thanked First Selectman Peter Tesei for his action last year joining Greenwich up with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns lobbying group that has called for increased enforcement of illegal weapons trafficking as well as universal background checks that would cover private sales and gun shows in the way that sales through stores are covered. The coalition has also been a strong advocate of universal background checks, and at the Jan. 9 meeting, presented Mr. Tesei and Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo with oversized thank-you cards for their help.

The cards, which praised the selectmen’s “courageous and principled efforts to reduce gun violence” had some of the signatures of the 1,001 people who, in December, sent holiday cards to members of Congress who had voted against gun law reform to try to convince them to change their votes as part of an effort by the coalition to mark the first anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Late last year, coalition members presented cards to both U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) and state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st), and on Jan. 9 it was the selectmen’s turn.

“One of the key strategies of the council is to support elected officials who are standing up in support of sensible gun regulation,” coalition member Jonathan Perloe said to the selectmen. “We’re very pleased and proud to include the Greenwich Board of Selectmen in that group of officials.”

Reading from the card, Mr. Perloe said, “Thanks to you, the voices of the majority, those who believe in commonsense gun regulation, are being heard.”

The selectmen all thanked Mr. Perloe and the coalition for their efforts and said they were glad to have the chance to help.

Mr. Perloe said there had been positive developments since the Newtown massacre on Dec. 14, 2012, including Connecticut adopting stronger gun laws, but, he said, “The tragedies outweigh the successes,” meaning there is still work to be done. He cited the Jan. 8 anniversary of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting that wounded then U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and took the lives of six others in 2011 and said that 6,000 children have been killed by guns since that shooting, including 23 mass shootings and 26 school shootings, including at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Mr. Perloe added that Mr. Tesei and the other selectmen had even been able to enact some positive change of their own by getting involved. Prior to the coalition appearing before the selectmen last August, Mayors Against Illegal Guns recognized only communities that specifically had mayors at the head of them. Mr. Tesei asked why first selectmen were not able to be fully involved as well, and Mr. Perloe said the coalition took that feedback to the organization, leading to a change in Mayors Against Illegal Guns policy.

“As you pointed that out to us, Mr. Tesei, it struck us all as counterproductive,” Mr. Perloe said. “We spoke to their executive director, and within a week they actually changed the policy and now all first selectmen and village presidents and municipal chief executives throughout the country are full coalition members. We thank you for bringing that to our attention.”

Several other coalition members accompanied Mr. Perloe to the meeting. During the December effort, the coalition also raised $1,000 to donate to the Newtown Action Alliance so it could bring victims of gun violence to Washington, D.C., so they could meet with members of Congress. Mr. Perloe said it was heartening to see the involvement not just of groups like the Board of Selectmen but also everyday citizens who signed cards in the freezing cold and want to get involved.

“The people of Greenwich have responded and support our efforts to keep working for our community’s and other communities’ throughout the country’s right to be free from gun violence,” Mr. Perloe said. “Our effort is alive and well, and we’re very happy to see that.”

 

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