What Should The Selectmen Focus On In 2013?

The Board of Selectmen presented 13 goals for Westford in 2013 on Tuesday, what are your thoughts on them?


With a new year comes a need for new goals, and the Westford Board of Selectmen and Town Manager talked on Tuesday about 13 of them for 2013, which we've attached here.

The board eliminated #13, amended #1 to say three years instead of five years on a operating budget and revenue projection, but the broadest discussion was on #8: a new bylaw to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in town.

Selectman Val Wormell argued that if the proposal was tied to the recent Newtown incident in Connecticut, it would be more effective for school principals to make their own plans to avoid gun violence while Selectman Robert Jefferies (pictured) took the opposite tack.

He strongly urged that the proposed bylaw not be watered down and advocated for an additional bylaw requiring anyone in Westford to join a "town militia" to get back to the roots of the Second Amendment.

You can see the discussion for yourself on the Westford CAT site (skip to approximately 1:12:00), but today we want to ask you your thoughts.

Do you agree with Jefferies or Wormell? What about the other topics? Are there different goals that should be on the Selectmen's plate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Ron Bokleman February 02, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Mike, I understand your fear, but there are many other barriers to the Chief of Police acting in this manner and I believe your fear to be unfounded. Your licensing authority cannot arbitrarily stop issuing Class A permits. While the State of Massachusetts is not a 'Shall Issue" state like many others and is a 'may issue' state the CoP would have to show that everyone who applied and was denied was unsuitable under MGL. A very unlikely set of circumstances as those that had applied would appeal and through the appeal process would win and then be so inclined to vote out all the Selectmen who would have a say in firing said 'CoP'. Don't laugh. It's happened a few times in MA already in Quincy for example. The lawful firearms owners banded together to out a tyrannical CoP and it can and will happen again. I would also point out the too numerous Police violations of the law and departmental feuds that spill over into the media that should make anyone think twice about forfeiting their own protection to someone else.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Ron, the Chief doesn't have to show proof that the applicants were unsuitable under MGL because aside from the obvious characteristics (convicted felon, mentally incompetent, habitual drunkard, etc.) there's no definition of unsuitable -- just the minimum suitable qualification of having taken the Basic Safety Course. It's purely jurisdictional. A denial can be appealed to the District Court, which will consider the Chief's reasons for restricting permits. In nearly every appeal I'm aware of, the DC has sided with the local licensing authority. Belmont, Lowell, Newton and Carlisle, among others, rarely issue Class A. http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/general-discussion/8703-guide-gun-rights-your-massachusetts-town.html
Ron Bokleman February 02, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Mike, Let's just agree to disagree on this point. I don't think this is relevant to the issue at hand and I doubt you want add fuel to the fire around this discussion in a public forum where our conversation could be construed or misinterpreted as a means of illegally disarming people.
Ron Bokleman February 02, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Mike, What I will say is that this notion as defined in H.R. 4296 of 1994 http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/103/hr4296/text that Chapter 140, Section 121 refers to should be null and void since this law expired and would suggest you help to repeal this at the State level. I would go further in stating that given the 2008 Heller Supreme Court decision and the "in common use" statement that these can and should no longer be considered 'high capacity' and thus are 'standard capacity', so we need to highlight these particular issues instead.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Ron, it's actually very relevant because the authority already exists for the town to do what some selectmen want to do legislatively. Jefferies' was trying to make a point with his proposal, but judging by the video of the proceedings, I don't think he or the other BoS members actually know much about the existing legislation, nevermind what's already being proposed at the state level. (Eliminate private sales, 7-round mag limit, etc.) I've written this before, but I'm completely fine with the town requiring additional training for anyone seeking a Class A LTC. Jefferies made a suggestion about reviving the town militia that seemed partially in jest but he actually stumbled into a decent point: having your armed citizens adequately trained and responsible -- well-regulated! -- is vastly better than having an untrained armed rabble.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 05:39 PM
If the people or person who was proposing this law was being totally honest then he would also be discussing what it would take to implement it - and what that would cost the town. A good comparison to this proposed law could be made to the current state of the drug laws in this country. For a law to be "just" and not just an arbitrary ranting of whomever is in charge at any particular time - there has got to be at least some logic behind the law. The "logic" behind the drug laws are that narcotics and other mind enhancing drugs - destroy people's lives and affect society at large. Agree with the laws or not - that is what I believe the underlying logic of those laws are. In order for this anti "assault weapon" law to be just - I believe there must be some logic behind it. It seems that Mr. Jeffries believes that by eliminating those firearms from the town - a school shooting may potentially be avoided. So here's the thing - if that is the underlying logic of this law - then in order for the law to not be a joke or just some sort of feel good measure that nobody pays attention to - then the a logical set of steps must follow from that law. Firstly all of the lawfully owned firearms that meet that classification must be eliminated from the town. This could be done voluntary or involuntarily. The state of MA requires an FA-10 form to be filed for all firearms purchased or transferred. I believe the police have access to that information.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Those records - are held by the Criminal History Services Board. It is known among people that have experience with this system - that it is messed up and the records are not complete. So - what that means is that you cannot rely on those records to find out who everybody is and what all the firearms are that exist in town. That is point 1. Point 2 is that the current MA licensing system allows a person - including any person who lives in Westford - to go out and buy any MA legal firearm that meets the license level they posess. What this means is that if a person has an LTC Class A they are licensed by the state of MA to concealed carry (if they have not been restricted when the license was issued) , they can purchase handguns with removeable magazines - and they can purchase "high capacity" rifles - which means those that take removable magazines. The Class A license allows the possessor to purchas what would likely be seen by the Westford law as "assault weapons". So - the Westford Police would have to stop issuing those licenses to ANY Westford resident - because if they did not - then Westford assault weapon ban or not - a person could just go buy one in any gun store in MA - OR ANY CONTINGENT STATE - and bring that firearm back into Westford. Without revoking all Class A licenses - this law would have no teeth.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 05:50 PM
So Westford residents would have to be restricted by the Police Chief to class B licenses - which means revolvers and rifles no removable magazine. That means anybody in the town of Westford who has a semi-automatic pistol - or a hunting rifle with a removeable magazine - would lose the level of license that allows them to own that - and those firearms also would be effectively banned from the town. It also means any body with a permit to carry concealed - would no longer be able to do that. Many women have concealed carry permits because of abusive ex - husbands, boyfriends, whatever. People have carry permits because they work in dangerous areas or because they have a dangerous profession - like jewelry store owner or armored truck driver. In order for this law to have real teeth - that licensing can no longer be issued by Westford - so all of those types of people can kiss their own ability to self defend goodbye. The next thing that must happen - is house to house searches. I can tell you for an absolute fact that there are people all over the state of MA that are unlicensed - and in the possesion of firearms. They may have had a license years ago and let it lapse, may have moved here from another state, may not even know they are supposed to be licensed. The reason is irrelevant - these people exist - and they own firearms - and you don't have any record that they have them.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Some of the weapons that are classified as "assault weapons" - are decades old. The M1 carbine - which is a WW2 era rifle - has been readily available to civilians for decades. Many vets from WW2 , Korea, Vietnam - even Desert STorm and Iraq - and Afghanistan - have brought weapons home with them from their overseas duty. Stories about people finding "bring backs" up in their attic show up with regularity in the news. Recently in CT a woman turned in a Stg44 - which IS an assault weapon - German , from WW2. And they were full automatic. It was in her attic or something like that. I have heard stories like this for decades. Why bring this up? Because this is point number 3. If the logic of this law is that "assault weapons" must be eliminated from the town in order to avoid a school shooting - you MUST GET ALL OF THEM. And what I am saying is this - unless you literally do a house to house search - you will never get all of them. They are sitting up in attics, sitting in basements , etc. Some kid someday will be up in in his grandmother's attic - find the M1 carbine that his grandfather left up there 2 decades ago - hidden in the rafters, take that rifle - and start shooting up his school. Right? I mean isn't that what this proposed law presumes? The the literal existence of "assault weapons" in town - will lead to a shooting? So you must search and confiscate ALL of them.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 05:59 PM
The last point I would like to make is: there can be no exclusions. The law MUST apply to police and fire and town employees and federal employees - EVERYBODY. If the underlying premise and logic of the law is that the weapons must literally be eliminated from town to avoid the shooting - then that MUST include ALL people. Who knows when some police officers kid might kill his father - and take his weapons - like Adam Lanza did in CT? The firearms must simply not exist in the town. I hope the people who are proposing this law - and who are contemplating passing it - have fully thought this out. I hope the peopel of Westford who will have this law inflicted upon them - will be in full possession of the facts of what the implications are of this law when it goes thru. But somehow I doubt that.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Jim, it's actually nowhere near as convoluted as you make it. There are no confiscations needed. No bureaucratic nightmare scenarios. No jackbooted thugs coming under cover of darkness to seize your beloved boomsticks. By restricting new licences and renewals to FIDs -- a jurisdictional power the chief ALREADY HOLDS and a power ALREADY IN EFFECT in other cities and towns -- the town could criminalize possession of large-capacity long guns for residents. The entire process would take six years from whatever arbitrary date the town chose Simple. Allow exceptions for those who absolutely need CCW, or who have a demonstrated proficiency. Done and done. Your right to bear isn't infringed, as the Heller decision has said there's no absolute right to carry whatever you want wherever you want.
Jim Wilson February 02, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Mike, So the town is ok with the possibility of a school shooting in the intervening six years? I think you are missing my point. If the underlying premise of the law is that the "assault weapons" are directly responsible for school shootings - then they MUST be eliminated - in as quick a fashion - and as thoroughly as humanly possible. Otherwise you're just not getting the job done. Is the town willing to get sued by some parent - because they have an ordnance that protects their children by eliminating assault weapons from the town - yet their kid gets killed by somebody who possesses one and is Westford resident - who is unlicensed - and shows up on no records as even having possession of that weapon - when the town KNEW what it would take to fully enforce the law? I don't think you're getting it. This is directly comparable to the drug laws - where we send police into people's homes, track down dealers, throw possessors of drugs into jail for decades - all on the premise that drugs are a scourge on society and must thoroughly be eliminated. Unless the law has teeth - and the town itself is willing to carry the law to that extent - then it's a joke. Because I can tell you with absolute certainty that people will disobey the law - and they will actually be able to do it LEGALLY - outside of the town of Westford.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Jim, if there's no liability for gun manufacturers and gun owners for weapons used in murders, there's not going to be a liability suit against the town for NOT enacting this. That dog won't hunt. I think there's nearly universal agreement that BoS's response to the Newtown shooting is predictably knee-jerk and reactionary, with little thought to the process, or to the legislation being proposed at the state level. As written, it's an empty gesture without much hope of passing. That said....if the town took other means to do it, i.e. restricting to FID, it could. While I understand your point about the town needing to confiscate weapons to eliminate lawsuits, that position isn't supported by recent history. Where were the widespread confiscations of weapons or magazines after the '94 ban? Answer: they never happened.
Harry Lennerton February 06, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Just browsing the comments in this chat. Okay Westford, go ahead. Pass your bylaw. But you'll be doubling the number of police in your town within a year, and that will likely put a crimp in the town budget. Anytime the "bad guys" hear about a town disarming their citizens, they make a beeline for that destination. Doesn't matte if it's a small ban or complete. Just look at Austrailia. They confiscated their citizens firearms, and now they are experiencing a wave of murder, rape and robbery they've never seen before in their entire history. Why? Because the "bad guys" don't obey such laws. Hey...good luck down there. LOL! You'll need it.
Silence DoBad February 07, 2013 at 12:44 PM
This ban will invite the criminals from other towns to come to Westford and perform their nefarious activities because it will be much safer here than where they live.
Silence DoBad February 07, 2013 at 01:00 PM
How many legal guns have been used in violent crimes in Westford over the past 10 years? Oh yeah you want to help PREVENT it from occurring, I see. Well we should also ban automobiles that travel over the speed of 65 miles per hour also, because I can think of several recent accidents that have taken the lives of young and old alike because of speed limit violations, not one legal gun used in a crime however. I mean, just to help prevent speeding deaths we should definitely BAN all cars capable of traveling over the speed o 65 MPH. If we really care about all premature deaths not just gun deaths (which I cannot recall any at this time in our community) then this is far MORE EFFECTIVE Legislation to help your constituents live longer. But it makes you townie politicians feel like you are part of something bigger by acting on silly and meaninless legislation to get your names in the papers so you can tell your friends, "hey look my name is in the paper" yaaay for me!
GAR February 08, 2013 at 02:04 AM
I am new to this,so I will do my best to be intelligent about what I say. What is being done in Westford seems knee jerk to me. Why is it everytime there is a gun crime it is the gun manufacturs fault? Everyone seems to forget that a weapon weather it is a Knife or a GUN it is a chunk of steel, an inanimate object if you will until a HUMAN picks it up puts his/her finger on the trigger and squeezes. This goes back to the saying guns do not kill people, people kill people. Ultimately we have the right to bear arms you will never change that so stop trying. Maybe try instituting a manditory phsyc. evaluation with every LTC or FID application may or may not help. As for the ban on assault weapons and large capacity handguns this will also have to filter down to your police force as well and any other LEO who may enter your town FBI, US Marshalls and the like.(S.W.A.T.) good luck taking their weapons. The militia topic that might work IF you make EVERY person above 18 man or woman participate, why would anyone want to be forced to protect someone who is not willing to do the same. Now you pass the law tell a law biding citizen he can not own his AR platform gun, or large capacity hand gun are you going to compensate him for his losses on that weapon if you sieze it or he has to sell it. Because the gun stores and private owners than can own it are going to low ball offer that person because the buyer knows the seller has to sell it or be in violation of your law.
GAR February 08, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Putting an unfair burden on that person. Lets not knee jerk react to these things, good people do good things when allowed to. Take the weapons out of good peoples hands and the only people who have guns are police and criminals and there are far more criminals than police. We must come together as a nation and solve this problem, not just spray and pray with hopes that we might hit the target. Lets get the guns out of the criminals hands not the lawbiding citizens hands. Thank you for your time. GAR
Silence DoBad February 09, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Let us deal with a real problem, not a feel good reactionary problem created by several deranged psychopaths in other states. Drunk Driving is far more likely to touch our community than assault weapons. We lose how many people every year to drunk driving? We lose how many people every year to assault weapons? We should ban ALCOHOL, that will stop people from Drunk driving, RIGHT??? We should ban all cars that travel over 65 miles an hour too! That will save lives and be far more effective measure if that really is what the town reps are looking to do. Oh but we know what they are doing, they are trying to grab the spot light for their 15 min of fame. Ohhhhh look at me, I CARE!!!
citizen February 10, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Enacting stricter laws for legally obtained firearms is the same thing as enacting tougher drunk driving punishments for the sober, it has no real merit except to make those that are scared of firearms feel better. I would love to see any study that proves that gun restrictions deter crime in any way. Tougher laws wont deter criminals, using the scenario that laws will stop criminals from getting guns how is the drug war going? Cocaine and other drugs are illegal and yet many people are still addicted. I believe that Mass. system is very thorough and anyone that has obtained an LTC understands that getting one is no easy feat, if you have any hint of a criminal past you most likely can be rejected.
citizen February 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Enacting stricter laws for legally obtained firearms is the same thing as enacting tougher drunk driving punishments for the sober, it has no real merit except to make those that are scared of firearms feel better. I would love to see any study that proves that gun restrictions deter crime in any way. Tougher laws wont deter criminals, using the scenario that laws will stop criminals from getting guns how is the drug war going? Cocaine and other drugs are illegal and yet many people are still addicted. I believe that Mass. system is very thorough and anyone that has obtained an LTC understands that getting one is no easy feat, if you have any hint of a criminal past you most likely can be rejected.
Mike February 10, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Citizen, it's actually very easy -- possibly too easy -- to obtain an LTC if you have a clean record. It just takes a long time. Meanwhile, your LTC doesn't say they you actually know how to use your weapon, just that you've completed a Basic Firearms Safety course. That's it. Period. (And yes, I have one.) Also, even as you're getting checked out for your LTC, there's no way for a licensing authority to know whether you're a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, have anger control issues, are clinically depressed and suicidal, or have any other mental illness associated with higher rates of harm to one's self or others. Everyone is focusing on crime and the stereotypical image of "criminals", but the people we have to worry about in mass killings often don't have criminal records, yet they're unhinged enough to shoot a classroom of 6-year-olds.
citizen February 11, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Mike, so are we going to base our laws and statutes off of the highly rare cases such as mass shootings? I believe in the equal protection clause but I do not believe these rare events support any reason to restrict gun control, ask yourself why before sandy hook we wernt discussing this very topic, its as if a horrible yet rare occasion is driving this debate when in reality we are trumping the rights of the many to make others who are scared of firearms feel better. Also i want to make it clear that i have no problems with background checks to a certain extent, and also I want to understand what limiting mag capacity will do, it takes about a second to drop a mag and reload one if you limit capacity people will either illegally get high cap mags or will just buy more.
Wayne Wagner February 11, 2013 at 05:47 AM
Wow... so many comments. Tough to parse them all. Maybe it was already asked and answered... but why the rush to get the Article 30 on the warrant? From what I am understanding, articles (especially serious ones) are vetted in public forums or hearings and take considerably more time to ready before putting on a warrant prior to the Town Meeting. Short cycling and rushing the warrant through without proper vetting with the public and using real Subject Matter Experts is like "limiting" free speech because all residents were limited by the time frame and not adequately notified and educated on the subject. Did all the BoS have adequate knowledge to make a conscientious decision to add the article to the warrant? Are they willing to stand up and back that they have received adequate input from knowledgeable people and followed proper processes?
John February 13, 2013 at 09:10 PM
The 2nd ammendment is to protect the people from a authorative government. Why do you think it was put in their after the revolution. Would we have won our freedom if the people didn't have guns to fight for their freedome? It has only been 250 years and everyone is ready to hand over their freedom hoping that everyone will always be nice? What happens when they are not nice? Really - more people die from the flu every year than guns. We are a large country of 400 million people - there are going to be tragedies. Are we a country run by tragedies and a few people who have the time to control us because the rest of us are working harder and paying the bills? Go do an honest day's work and the rest will work itself out.
Hugh MacDonald February 15, 2013 at 08:03 PM
unfamiliar with article 30, here's a short youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDPN_7RgOtk
Ed February 19, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Westford , should then ban SUV's and other dangerous automobile's. Auto's larger than 5000gvw should be ban in westford because no one needs a large suv,also they should ban pickup trucks (unless a licensed contractor).these vehicles could cause ingury to someone driving a smaller car. Also ban beer in larger than 6 packs why would anyone need a 30 pack? No cigarette sales at all in town. Maximum of 6 strings of "holiday lights" Don't attack lifestyles that you don't understand.!!! Any gun in a school is Illegal. If there going to break that law,what makes you think this ban would help?? Wake up !! Sad
bill mitchell February 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM
When these same jackals in Washington get around to confiscating retirement accounts on the basis of fairness, maybe some of you weaklings will get the idea. I'd expect this from a town that has spawned quite a crop of snooty potheads!
Mark February 20, 2013 at 02:31 AM
No Law, No Man, Nobody has the right to tell someone else they are unable to defend themselves. Good Luck with your feckless, toothless, unenforceable, feel good legislation! http://blog.wilsoncombat.com/paul-howe/2nd-amendment-and-the-kool-aid-drinkers-by-paul-howe/
M February 20, 2013 at 10:59 PM
So what happens when I am driving down 495 as I pass through Westford while I have a CCW which I am legally licensed in the state to carry? I guess I would be breaking the law. This is ridiculous!


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