Dear Fellow Town Meeting Members and other Concerned Citizens:
For all of the obvious reasons, and because Lexington has first mover advantage and responsibilities, I have submitted a Citizen’s Article to the Warrant to regulate the manufacture, sale, and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity gun magazines within the Town of Lexington. I hope that it will have your support now, and when the article comes before Town Meeting in March . . .
The proposed legislation will be modeled strictly on an ordinance enacted by Highland Park, IL (a suburb of Chicago) in 2013, approved in a Federal district court there, and by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. On Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, the U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, implicitly suggesting that local town and city bans on large scale weaponry do not impinge on Second Amendment rights under the U. S. Constitution, and are permissible despite its ruling in Miller in 2014. The U.S. has a long tradition of regulating weapons at the local level – think Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Ariz., not to mention Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
The New York Times reported that the Supreme Court’s welcome inaction in the Highland Park case was the seventieth time since 2008 that the Court has declined to consider a challenge to state or local gun regulation. “This creates a big opportunity,” it said, “for Americans to put pressure on their…local leaders.”
As Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park and candidate for Congress wrote recently, the Supreme Court’s decision encourages “other cities and villages across the nation to follow our lead and pursue assault weapons without the threat of legal action under the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.”
She also wrote: “One piece of legislation is not going to prevent every gun violence tragedy, but with courageous leadership, we can take steps to protect American lives.” I hope that the passage of the proposed amended by-law in Lexington will save Lexington lives and inspire other cities and towns within the Commonwealth to follow suit in this practical and sensible matter.
My proposed amendment to Chapter 97 of the Code of Lexington (Public Conduct) would in no way affect ordinary gun or hand-gun ownership in Lexington. It would, however, prohibit the possession within town limits of assault weapons – semiautomatic rifles that have the capacity to accept large capacity magazines. (The proposed article would specify in great detail exactly what kinds of weapons and magazines were covered.) The Highland Park legislation enumerates the brands outlawed. Large capacity magazines are defined as holding ten or more rounds.
Assault weapons do not include antique weapons. Citizens of the town would still be able to bear arms, just not weapons of mass murder.
I have consulted with the Selectmen, the Town Manager (and Town Counsel), the Moderator, and the Chief of Police. Everyone has been very helpful.
I will welcome your comments, criticisms, suggestions for improvement, and so on, but, please as few NRA rants as possible. This proposal will, I hope, attract widespread support from TM voters and from citizens of the Town. It is the least we can do to try to limit harm.
Robert I. Rotberg