Published January 07, 2013
A Connecticut town that considered requiring that even slingshots be registered with the police chief in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings dialed back its regulation of weapons, but critics say the measure under consideration still goes too far.
An ordinance before the Weston Board of Selectmen seeks to ban any assault or automatic weapon, as well as high-capacity magazines, and would also require that any firearm be kept in a locked box. Weston residents also will have to register any firearm with the police chief, including rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers.
“This is not an effort to cause concern for lawful gun owners," Selectman Dennis Tracey told FoxNews.com. "There’s been significant support for our efforts to re-look at our ordinance, which is over 20 years old and provides insufficient safety measures for our community.”
Under the proposal presented last week, the town would have regulated not just firearms, but other weapons including "long bows, cross bows, slingshots, or other implements that impel with force a projectile if any kind."
But Tracey said the ordinance was revised and references to non-firearm weapons were removed. But language banning assault and automatic weapons altogether, and a requirement that all other firearms be registered with the police department remains, and violators face fines of $500 under the current draft.
Town resident Bob Ferguson said he is concerned the town's bid to regulate firearms could infringe on his Second Amendment rights. He said that even if the town is no longer planning to go after slingshots, the fact that such a move was in the initial draft is troubling.
“It just shows how much overreach the Board of Selectmen is trying to attempt,” Ferguson said. “So, what about a child’s Nerf gun or a Pez dispenser?
“I have a great deal of concern on many levels,” added Ferguson, a 48-year-old bond trader. “To me, it smacks of bifurcating the groups of people in town into two groups, those who have firearms and those who do not. I do believe this is local legislative overreach.”
Ferguson said he’s been in contact with local attorneys who have indicated that the proposal, as it now stands, runs contrary to state law and may be unconstitutional.
“This is the whole reason why we have the Second Amendment, to protect us against legislative overreach like this,” he said. “I think this is one issue in which [town officials] are trying to force their own personal views on the rest of the people in town.”
Tracey said most of the feedback he’s received on the proposal pertained to its registration component, but reiterated that town officials are consulting with attorneys to ensure it will pass legal muster.
“In their view, it could infringe upon the Second Amendment,” Tracey said of detractors. “I understand the concern, but certain weapons are already subject to registration, which does not make [owners] second-class citizens.”
A public hearing will be held following another reading by town officials later this month, Tracey said.
“And only then would it be presented to the selectmen for possible passage,” he said.