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Is Town Hall Big Enough For Tonight's Discussion on The Firearms Warrant Article?

There's plenty on the Selectmen's docket tonight, but we're expecting a big crowd for one item in particular, and we want your take on whether there's enough room.

A discussion on last year's warrant articles for Spring Town Meeting was so packed that many observers were forced to stand outside in the hallway. Will tonight be a repeat with the large crowd expected for tonight's discussion on the firearms ban warrant article?

Since Patch first reported on this story over a month ago, the topic has spread to media outlets across the state, with a packed house of those wishing to discuss the article the last time it came before the Selectmen's attention as well.

Tonight's meeting also has a wide array of other items on the warrant as well as a presentation by State Representative Jim Arciero and State Senator Eileen Donoghue on the Fiscal Year '14 state budget, an update on the potential Fiscal Year '14 town budget voters will deliberate upon at Town Meeting, information on the possible demolition of Parents' Market, a conservation restriction at Nashoba Valley Ski Area and more.

Will you be there? Can the Town Hall Conference Room fit everyone that wants to be there? How many people will be watching the meeting on Westford CAT?

We'll bring you a recap of what happens tonight, but in the meantime, what do you think will happen?

Tell us in the comments.

Jim Jarvie February 13, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Me too, Hugh! 1st Cav
Vincent DiRico February 13, 2013 at 02:20 PM
JJ: "Westford has a revenue problem" really? does that mean you will lead the charge for a 2.5 override?
Jim Jarvie February 13, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Vincent, as a procurement professional for almost 20 years, I am not confident the board has done all they can do to ensure we are running government as efficiently as possible. First thing I would do is propose a financial review by the MA DOR. For over 25 years, the Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services (DLS) has been a significant resource for local officials on matters of municipal finance, technology and government structure. This is a free service provided by the DOR and at the end of the review, the BoS will get a report with recommendations on how we can operate more efficiently and effectively, improve budget and capital planning procedures and analyze school finance just to name a few. I think this is a great first step in ensuring we are spending wisely. So no, I am not in favor of a 2.5 override and will oppose any effort to throw this on the backs of the taxpayer.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Steven, one correction: You said, "We do have too many shootings in America but they mostly occur in the inner cities with the strictest gun laws. In the rural areas where gun ownership ratio is higher per person, they have the lowest gun crime/murders." That's just flat wrong, and is only remotely true if you skew the raw numbers to ignore the fact that there are fewer people in rural areas, so of course there would be fewer deaths. In reality, gun deaths per capita are actually higher in states with fewer gun laws, many of them in the south and midwest. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/ While there are definite murder hotspots, Chicago being a prime example, you're still more likely to die from a gun in rural Louisiana than in Boston.
Erik Jon Warila February 13, 2013 at 03:05 PM
@ Mike: correct me if I'm wrong but the article you referenced above does not distinguish between accidental deaths and homicides. In my opinion, a hunting accident is not the same thing as a violent drive by murder. There were 363 homicides by rifles of any type, including semi-automatic ARs in 2011. More homicides were committed with knives that same year.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Erik, you're right on a couple of counts. Tthe chart shows all deaths by firearm, including suicides and accidental shootings -- often kids and unsecured guns. Both categories are higher in areas with loose gun laws. And you're right about the number of deaths from rifles; I've posted the 2011 FBI UCR numbers here before that show the focus on scary-looking ARs is wildly misplaced. About 72 percent of firearm homicides are actually from handguns, not so-called "assault weapons." That's just another reason why the proposed ordinance is off the mark.
Sue W February 13, 2013 at 03:57 PM
My first comment stands as fact. And yes I know the full quote. But I also assume that human nature is the same around the world. What is variable is the level of gun ownership and gun laws around the world. When those variables change, the level of death-by-firearms changes.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 13, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Comments have been deleted due to violations of the terms of use.
Dan D. February 13, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Big assumption. "human nature" is really human behavior, isn't it? It varies greatly even in our country.
Benito February 13, 2013 at 05:30 PM
Let's show Jefferies and David Keele the Door!
Jim Jarvie February 13, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Thanks, Hugh! Really appreciate the support.
Steven Sadowski February 13, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Mike: As a mathematics major I have to disagree with your statistical analysis. There are more gun deaths in Chicago, Boston, L.A. et. al. than rural areas. This cannot be refuted and these places have the strictest gun laws, which also cannot be refuted. So what is a pro-gun restriction person to do when faced with this dilemma? Well, one way is to dissect the statistics per capita to make the argument that one has a better chance of getting shot in backwater Mississippi than the corner of 4th and Main. The problem with this skew is that it can be inverted to defeat the initial argument. In other words, not everyone in the city owns a gun. In fact when you subtract law enforcement/security, very few people own guns. So now your sample REALLY becomes contaminated. Conversely, one person in a rural area may own several guns, maybe even a whole safe full! So if you want to play the per capita game, you can, but it is a weak argument since it does not account for the aggregate number of guns per household in relation to the population and crime stats. In other words, if you have 2 people in your house, and 1 person went to the hospital last year, 50% of your population is accident-prone! What is that line…there are liars, damned liars and statistics?
Mike February 13, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Steven, you're confounding correlation and causation. Most of the cities you mention have tougher gun laws because they have more crime, not the other way around. Inverting the relationship is a fairly common -- and discredited -- NRA-pushed talking point. (And totally ignores that New York City's tough gun laws have helped contribute to a steady decrease in violent gun-related crime...) But there have been multiple studies that demonstrate that in states and regions where there is more gun ownership -- even controlling for urbanization and poverty -- there are more gun deaths. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/ States with higher levels of household gun ownership -- many of them the places with the gun-filled safes you mention -- had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17070975 These studies were conducted by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center -- http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/ -- before the NRA lobbied successfully to defund research to the center, as well as to the CDC's Injury Prevention Center. All that said....Westford doesn't need a NYC-style law; nor does it need a measure that goes above and beyond proposed state or federal laws. I like to shoot, and enjoy shooting ARs, but there are some sensible measures that can be taken that don't involve outright bans.
R Gagnon February 13, 2013 at 07:07 PM
If this article should pass, what is the enforcement action going to be? There will be people who all of a suden find themselves on the wrong side of a town ordinance. I would guess that most who find themselves in that predicament will refuse to get rid of the newly banned weapons. The only way to effectively enforce the ordinance would be for the police to go door to door looking through peoples' closets, dresser drawers, kitchen junk drawers, night table drawers and every other nook and cranny of every household in town to make sure that these easily hidden magazines are confiscated and removed from within the town boundaries of Westford. So those of you who might have a small stash of weed or some toys we are not allowed to talk about on this web site in the night stand will have all of you closet skeletons exposed to local authorities. What about car traffic on Rt495 and Rt3? Many truckers are well armed. UPS delivers such items and they could be on any of the UPS trucks without the driver's knowledge. Will all you anti-gunners or "lets meet in the middle" types be willing to open your door to the police when they knock? Nothing to hide? really? Think about it and be careful what you ask for.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Rich, the "meet in the middle" types aren't advocating for the Article, and know that the unenforceability is just one of the reasons why it won't pass. Your scenario of the "jack-booted thugs" rummaging around in your underthings for contraband isn't going to happen.
R Gagnon February 13, 2013 at 07:38 PM
You cannot just assume it won't pass. I've seen some strange things happen at TM by special interest groups stacking the meeting by calling and texting all their friends just before the article in question is coming up for discussion. Assuming it won't pass for any reason is a dangerous thing. If this articl passes, the next step is enforcement. If the "jack-booted thugs" do not intend to rumage around my dresser drawers (cold day in hades, BTW) how else would it be enforced? It can't be done without a house to house search for banned weapons.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Rich, I think you answered your own question. ;) It can't be done without a house-to-house search and it's a probable cause nightmare...
Steven Sadowski February 13, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Mike: I’m not conflating causation with correlation. I know the crime came before the bans not visa versa, but the statement holds that the places with the strictest laws have the highest murder rates with guns. The only way you can make your argument work is to employ per capita ratios, but common sense illuminates the fact that I’d rather raise my family in rural Pennsylvania vs. Philadelphia despite your cherry picked statistics. Secondly, the reason why these studies are so flawed is because many guns are illegally owned and therefore not registered for an accurate count, they don’t take into account the number of officers in their sample, the number of deaths via police shooting suspects, the amount of deaths by suicide, handgun vs. rifle vs. other, and number of guns per household. This is why drug studies are also very sketchy and off. Last, you seem to have a vendetta against the NRA, which is clouding your arguments on this issue. Like I posted earlier, the NRA is not involved in the shenanigans in Westford.
R Gagnon February 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Exactly. But the knee jerk types like Jefferies apparently haven't thought that part through. Should this pass, Jefferies house should be the first one searched. Maybe he is comfortable putting that kind of authority in the hands of police officers but I would never allow it in my house whether I own such LOCALY BANNED weaponry or not.
Phil McKrackin February 13, 2013 at 09:18 PM
All you need for happiness in this town is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.
Mike February 13, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Steven, my "vendetta" against the NRA is more of a reaction to the ridiculous rhetoric that gets passed through the right-wing megaphones as fact. Case in point: the argument that strict gun laws are ineffective against urban gun crime, an argument that you echoed in your previous post. The places with the highest gun murder rates enacted the strictest gun laws, just as you acknowledged, and NYC is a place where those tough laws have been shown to be effective. But back to the studies: Both those studies posted, as well as others on the site, use gun registrations and survey data from gun owners to get actual data on numbers and types of guns in the home. They factor out suicides, but yes, they combine all firearm homicides into one category. The effect from the factors you mention would be negligible. All that said, I think we both agree that the proposed Westford article is a legislative over-reach that shouldn't pass, likely won't pass, and couldn't be enforced even if it managed to squeak through.
Steven Sadowski February 13, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Mike: I can't agree with several statements you've made. 1. I don't assume it won't pass. The election will be on the 30th and the Dems in the town will go to polls and vote for Markey and will vote for Jefferies too. 1a, just because 150-200 gun owners showed up last night, does not mean they outnumber the amount of progressives who hate guns and will vote for the ban. 2. If you score a 30 on a test and then score a 60 you've shown drastic improvement, but you're still barely passing. I'm from NY so I can tell you NYC has come a long way, but it has also become very unaffordable and many have moved to NJ, so the statistics---once again---are "massaged"to say the least. 3. Gun surveys and registrations only count legal guns and the surveyed. When dealing with a black market (drugs,immigrants, prostitution) it is extremely difficult to find reliable data points. One has to almost forget the data stream and just use one's own eyes. Where would you rather live (in terms of safety)? In DC or ND?
Amber February 13, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Phil, nice nome de plume, but you forgot about the girlfriend/mistress. Shhhh.
Hugh MacDonald February 13, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Article 30 youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDPN_7RgOtk
Vincent DiRico February 14, 2013 at 12:48 AM
Well done! Did they pay town counsel for an opinion on this "conversation" already? heck the folks here clearly pointed out points 1 and 2 (in the findings) were an issue, maybe we can get town counsel to cut the fee to 1/3? and send it to BJ :O
Ghost February 14, 2013 at 01:17 AM
No money to honor police, fire, and teachers step increases but money to burn here trampling on the US Constitution? Hypocrites! Westford is going to get the pants sued off us with the liability on this, bond rating really gonna dive then. I imagine all police fire and teachers feel real good about taking one for the team last year to see money recklessly thrown around this year! Clean house time folks
Amber February 14, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Anne: As I understand it, the BoS used up 6 hours of Town Counsel's retainer. They say they "didn't spend any money", but the reality is that a retainer was paid up front and they just dipped into it at some godawful hourly rate to push this agenda, and that's money which now can't be used for things currently in ongoing litigation. That's some pretty expensive ink on paper if you ask me - the rest is just semantics.
Amber February 14, 2013 at 03:13 AM
CCR: Yeah, someone probably wet his pants when "ultra vires" started getting bandied about. Thus, the current underhanded political maneuvering to present it as a citizen's petition to protect someone's backside, bank account, and house. It's a much different ballgame when it's your OWN money at risk and not a pool of taxpayer funds, isn't it?
Amber February 14, 2013 at 03:28 AM
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=507274009310840&set=a.112478365457075.7231.107705785934333&type=1&relevant_count=1
Protagoras February 23, 2013 at 01:11 AM
I hope your reference to Selectman Jefferies proposed Article was tongue-in-cheek when you are insinuating that it would be start a grass roots discussion? Mr. Jefferies has the right to say and propose as he wishes, but as an elected official of this town it was a disservice to the town. Read the Article carefully, it was cobbled together quickly and has no legal basis to support Federal judicial review. Read Heller and MacDonald and you will find evidence that this would clearly have lost at the Federal level. The end result, would be only a huge legal bill for the town. As I've stated in a previous post, the genesis of this Article by Mr. Jefferies can be found in a dislike or bias towards firearms. Again, as I stated in my previous post, I believe more contributing causes to these events is the dismal state of mental health services and laws as well as the preponderance and extensiveness of realistic violent movies, tv shows and video games. The 2 Colorado events as well as the West Virginia event can be viewed as caused by individuals with psychotic behavior. Lack of proper recognition and treatment led to these individuals carrying out this horrific acts. How do we mitigate/lessen this? Start by looking at this rather than using these events as a rallying call to ban firearms.

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