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Warrant is Signed, Guns Not On The Agenda For Town Meeting

The issue may arise again at some point in the future, but not before Spring Town Meeting on March 23 as a packed Stony Brook Auditorium left seeing the Selectmen sign the Town Meeting warrant without the controversial "gun ban" warrant articl

 

The voters of Westford now have the articles they will act upon at the Abbot School on March 23, and none of them will involve guns.

In what was a very brief continuation of last week's meeting, the board voted unanimously to withdraw the controversial Article 30 that would prohibit certain types of firearms in front of an overflowing auditorium and a secondary room (pictured) at the Stony Brook School on Wednesday night.

The board also declined to reopen the warrant for several other articles, including new citizen's petitions related to Article 30, signing the warrant and ending debate on what will be presented to voters at Town Meeting.

Selectman Bob Jefferies, the principal proponent of the measure, did not see the article's withdrawal as a defeat, but as a victory, citing the extensive debate over the issue in the public's eye as a necessary one.

"I'm glad to have seen all these show up, and I hope they show up at Town Meeting," said Jefferies. "I said in the beginning that alot they say has to do with the Second Amendment in defending democracy, this is defending democracy. Showing up at public meetings, putting in the time, and working out the issues."

After approximately 100 e-mails, more that did not go directly to him due to mispellings in his name and numerous phone calls, Jefferies has the impression that the debate is not over in the long run, although he wanted to stop debate for the time being to focus the discussion among town residents exclusively instead of outside groups, regardless of their perspective on the topic.

"I think (the debate) will continue, but I don't know what form it will be, I can't tell you until we have a consensus from the town," he said. "It's not polar opposing, there's a whole range from Second Amendment absolutists to people who would take away every weapon if they could. There's a big range of opinion, and we have to figure out the consensus."

Despite the unanimity on removing the article, the board remained divided on whether the topic should be brought back up at some point in the future, with a comment from Selectman Val Wormell drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.

Chairman Kelly Ross saw the withdrawal's cause not stemming from the article overshadowing other parts of the warrant, but from the outpouring of information he and other selectmen received on the topic that made him think more analysis was needed.

"We put it out as a high level concept in the early going, but then part of the process is you examine this stuff," said Ross, citing that other articles have also been withdrawn in the past. "The more we looked at it, the more problematic we saw it was, the more we saw it wasn't ready for primetime, and the more we saw better avenues to address this than a local bylaw."

Article 30 opponent and local gun safety instructor Debra Grumbach sees the withdrawal as a victory as Jeffries does, and says she and others in her cause will still attend Town Meeting for other topics.

"I'm fairly certain if this remained on there, we would have had a thousand people in attendance, and I still hope we have a large number of people come to Town Meeting because so many issues are decided by so few," she said. "You have to remember that people that defend the Second Amendment come from all walks life and all parts of the political spectrum and we'll have people interested in whether we pass a moratorium on medical marijuana in this town, or people concerned about the renaming of Westford Woods, and then we have the budget issues, that's probably my biggest concern."

Martin Luther February 21, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Come on!! You have the right to free speech secured by the 1st and 2nd amendment but your constant whining may lead ro a modification of the 1st Amendment that precludes statements of whining by over paid and under worked municipal employees.
Martin Luther February 21, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Paul! If you believe that the BoS, TM , SC & FinCom are looking to provide cost efficient town services, I have a bridge to sell you. The latest budget manipulation can be seen on the 19 Feb. 2013, FinCom meeting available at the WCAT website. To make it simple, if you do away with a service (ALS) that is being subsidize to the tune of $400K then you will incur a cost in excess of $600K to support the WFD. Municipal funds accounting techniques allow an enterprise to run deficits in excess of $400k but have free cash to buy tinker toys. Current status is that there will be at least a $ 3.6 million override in FY15 (May 2014) which is like a 6 to 7% increase on your tax bill.
Martin Luther February 21, 2013 at 07:33 PM
I believe that WPD get $70+/hr for overtime with a 4 hour minimum. Notwithstanding, Mr. Jefferies and Mr. Ross statements that Mr. Jefferies drafted article 30, I guess that in excess of 30 hours of legal consult were utilized. I doubt that the legal fees were less than $250/hr. But do not worry about chicken feed, the upcoming town budget for FY14 has more fat than a well fed pig. The projected FY15 budget will require a $3.6 million override to prevent layoffs.
Rusty February 21, 2013 at 08:43 PM
The only reason I carry a .45cal. is they don't make a 46!
Paul February 21, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Jesse, thanks for adding much detail to my exact point. Bingo!
Iron Mike February 21, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Mister Webber, just WHO appointed YOU to decide what citizens need for self defense? THAT was decided by our founders in 1789 when our Bill of Rights was ratified. The selectmen of Westford – or ANY other town – have NO AUTHORITY to circumvent our Constitution or infringe upon our God-given rights! BTW, you should research why we have the 3rd Amendment...and think about it. If YOU don't like guns - simple - DON'T BUY ONE!
Uncle Sam February 22, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Why do I always see posts about what teachers get paid here no matter the subject? If you're a teacher and you feel underpaid then please go find a better paying job and stop whining. If work was really fun they wouldn't have to pay you to be there. As for the gun ban, the selectmen ate a lot of crow last night. Hurrah!
Local February 22, 2013 at 07:30 AM
@US: "If work was really fun they wouldn't have to pay you to be there." Really? really? So teachers should work for the fun of it and pay no consideration to real world finances? Pay their bills and send their kids to college with fruit loops!? Our teachers deserve to be paid fairly, that hasn't happened because the town was said to be nearly broke, relevance is: with this type of leadership we can better understand how that is. Go guns!
Iron Mike February 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM
OK, Local, please give us specifics. Tell us about the hardships of teaching in a run-down crime-ridden town like Westford... How far are you commuting to your job today? Tell us how much you make [exact $] - and how much you think would be 'fair'.... If Westford isn't 'fair' to you, - will you apply for teaching positions in better-paying school systems? Which ones? Would those include private schools? Finally, please explain how your pay is tied to the rights of US Citizens to self defense and gun ownership as protected by the 2nd Amendment, - because the direct connection is escaping me...
Jamaal February 22, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Isn't there a town center that needs you and your signs?! And Mike the word today is Black or African American for people of color, when we met back in November and you had your anti Obama sign it was clear you didn't just disagree with this administrations policy decisions
Uncle Sam February 23, 2013 at 03:53 AM
I never said teachers shouldn't be paid fairly. What I said is that if you are unhappy with your pay, find a teaching job somewhere that pays better or go into a different line of work. Its a free market. The town pays what it pays. If enough people don't like the wages they will have trouble attracting teachers and the wages will be increased. If there aren't many vacancies (and I'm pretty sure there aren't) then the wages are fair. Back to the topic of firearms. Keep your eyes open, the anti-gun lobby has been put in the light of day but the word is that they are working on a Plan B.
Martin Luther February 23, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Read up on the recall provisions of the town charter. I will be glad to contribute $200 + 100 hours of my time to assist in a mass recall of the BoS, SC & Town Moderator. Followed by a mass dismissal of the ConsCom, Finance Committee, Water Commissioners, Town Manager, Fire and Police Chiefs, School Supt., and anyone else that the people should be sent packing.
Iron Mike February 23, 2013 at 04:42 AM
Let not the anger of the moment drive us to make the exact kinds of foolhardy emotional mistake these gun-grabbing libtards just did.... Don't put the town through a wringer just to vent anger. As the Irish like to say, 'Revenge is a dish best served cold.' Meanwhile, pick out their ringleaders – and send a delegation to their homes – to ASK them to resign – for the good of the town. Only after they refuse should you mount the recall petition drive. If it comes to that, I'll help collect signatures!
Martin Luther February 23, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Iron Mike, the recall provisions provide a period of time for the impacted officials to resign or face a recall election. The specifics can be found at http://www.westfordma.gov/pages/government/towndepartments/WestfordMA_clerk/documents/elections/Recall_Elections_in_Westford.pdf Enough talk. Off with their heads.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 23, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Hey Jamaal, Talk about the topic, not other users. Jesse James, You should know better by now.
Tyler Jozefowicz February 25, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Where do all the pro-gun types here get the impression that the 2nd Amendment is without limitation. Every state has gun regulations, restrictions, licensing, buying and permit requirements. I haven't seen too many killing defenseless deer with grenade launchers, have you? Don't some nut job here go off and tell me to read the Constitution either. The sick logic can only go so far.
Raoul Duke February 25, 2013 at 04:02 PM
But your "limitations" and "restrictions" can only go so far too. At some point, your control negates the philosophy and objective of the amendment. That is a much larger and more damaging problem.
Steven Sadowski February 25, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Tyler: I think what's being lost here, whether you are a "pro gun type," an anti gun type, or just ambivalent to guns +/or types, the overarching problem is ALL of our rights are in a constant state of flux and review by the courts, whether it be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Amendment, etc. The courts have a hard enough time trying to balance out our freedoms with public safety/common good and there are no easy answers. Because of this, the town cannot afford to become the Petri dish for a legal challenge. If lawyers all worked pro bono, then I'm sure Westford would not be alone in it's experiment of restriction, but lawyers DO cost money and losses will end up costing our town valuable resources, which is why Westford is alone. Not even moonbat towns like Newton, Wellesley, or Brookline took up this torch. Doesn't that tell you something? The B0S is irresponsible. because they are acting in such a way that is inviting a lawsuit, for that they deserve to be voted out of office. As for your hunting comment, the 2nd Amendment does not apply to hunting. In the 18th century if you didn't hunt, you starved. No sense in writing an Amendment that states the obvious. Obviously, it's there for another reason.
Steven Sadowski February 25, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Local: What is "fairly?" From my understanding it takes a Bachelor's Degree and certification to teach public school. The going salary for a bachelor's degree whether it be marketing, business, computers, etc. is about $70,000 BUT those professions work year round, and the benefits and pensions vary. AND many of those positions are salaried so you work until the job gets done, so there is no overtime even though one may work late, or at home after business hours. Teachers, for the most part have a very convenient 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. M-F clockwork schedule, every holiday off plus spring break, winter break, Christmas break, etc. So I ask you, what is "fairly?"
Martin Luther February 25, 2013 at 08:53 PM
3:52 pm on Monday, February 25, 2013 Have you read the US Constitution, 1st 10 amendments? Have you read the Massachusetts Constitution as follows Article XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it. Article XIV. Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures, of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation; and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure: and no warrant ought to be issued but in cases, and with the formalities prescribed by the laws. [See Amendments, Art. XLVIII, The Initiative, II, sec. 2]. If the laws of the land do not impress you, then you may be faced with the anger of those whose rights you are trying to trample.
Dan February 25, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I wonder why the estimated total cost of $20,000-$25,000 taxpayer money eaten up by legal research fees and some police overtime by this stunt isn't being scrutinized at a time when budgets are the focus. A line item for $20,000 gets voted on at town meeting yet this didn't and I think the disconnect of people here to exactly how and where our money is spent is the reason we are closer to going into the red in 2015 (according to J Ross) than our less affluent neighbors!
Iron Mike February 25, 2013 at 09:23 PM
From the words: "shall NOT be infringed"... We understand this is difficult for you - because Democrats and Statists ALWAYS like to make up rules as they go along. The Founders knew about you - that's why they made the language so specific!
Erik Jon Warila February 25, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Tyler, I don't tell you how to live nor do I tell you what you should be able to own. I wish you would reciprocate and extend the same courtesy to your neighbors. By the way, we're not talking about grenade launchers, we're talking about semi-automatic firearms. The language as written in Jefferies' article would have affected just about every practical modern firearm, which in turn would have amounted to a total ban.
Uncle Sam February 26, 2013 at 03:09 AM
The idea that gun ownership isn't already severely restricted is one of the lies the anti-gun camp regularly perpetrates. Particularly in this state, which has among the strictest gun laws in the nation. We already have an assault weapons ban here. We already restrict high capacity magazines here. We already severely restrict what brands and models of guns are legal in MA, including some of the most common brands and models available. We already have a rigorous licensing process that is so cumbersome that the state often can't deliver permits within the legally mandated timetable. We already give local police chiefs essentially unfettered control over who can receive a permit and what restrictions may be imposed on the permit. We have laws in MA about secure storage of guns. We have laws about secure transportation of guns. I could go on and on and on. So if assualt weapons are already banned here and high capacity magazines are also already banned (along with grenade launchers, tactical nuclear weapons, Abrams tanks, anti-aircraft missile batteries and so on) then how can one justify the next grab? The game plan is this. Pile on more gun laws. Gun violence does not decrease (since more gun laws are proven not to reduce gun violence- in fact gun violence has increase in MA since we enacted the last sweeping increase in gun laws). Use as justification to restrict guns further. Repeat.
Martin Luther February 26, 2013 at 03:20 AM
Sorry to bring you the bad news. There are two lines in the Finance Committee book that provide the money. Town Counsel/Legal Fees about $200,000 for FY 13 and the Police Department personnel line item >$2.7 million for FY 13. The question that should be asked is: Why did the Board of Selectmen feel that they needed armed police protection?.
Iron Mike February 26, 2013 at 03:25 AM
>> Why did the Board of Selectmen feel that they needed armed police protection? When people fear their government – you have tyranny. When government fears the People, - you have freedom! Funny, none of the officers there Wednesday seemed the least bid afraid of us; - I think they saw their fellow citizens - acting in accordance with our 1st Amendment rights to petition Government....
Uncle Sam February 26, 2013 at 04:09 AM
This is the new program. Public figures, celebrities, politicians, etc. get armed security. No mag restrictions for the cops. No assault weapons ban applies. Why do they need that firepower? Because the criminals have it! You and I? Good luck.
historian March 28, 2013 at 03:07 AM
The constitution states citizens have the right to bear arms. When the constitution was written this included... a musket. Times have changed and technology has created many extremely powerful weapons. Do citizens have the right to any kind of arms of any arbitrary power? There are sensible laws and good reasons why citizens cannot own any kind of arms. Let's understand the constitution in the proper context. What would the founding fathers think about the zealous insistence that every citizen has the right to any kind of weapon of mass destruction, i.e., extremely powerful assault weapons. The historical context of the second amendment "right to bear arms" was in response to our experience under British occupation. The founders wanted to make sure no government would ever have the power to constrain a citizen's right to carry a basic firearm which was necessary for protection, hunting, and the formation of a militia. The idea that any citizen has a constitutional right to any arbitrarily powerful "arms" is ridiculous, IMHO. We have a right to a firearm, not weapons of mass destruction. This is common sense and also constitutional.
historian March 28, 2013 at 03:17 AM
I agree. Citizens do not have the right to arbitrarily powerful weaponry. This is common sense and constitutional. Next time someone says "read the constitution", I feel like saying, "Yes, you have the right to carry a musket!".
Steven Sadowski March 28, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Historian; Your premise is flawed. The Internet was not around during the 18th century yet we (obviously) have the right to speak our minds and offer our opinions. There were only 13 states when the 10th was written and who could've foreseen the Westboro Baptist Church, yet they have the same religious rights as any mainstream catholic. The 2nd Amendment was written to prevent governmental tyranny and to protect the homeland from invasion. I cannot defend myself in that way with a .22 six shooter. But even if I didn't want to own one of those, that would be my right to choose, not for a government to force me to own a gun, nor to be told that I can't own a gun of my choosing. During the Rev. War, common people could not own cannons, not from the point of view regulation but practicality. If you are a historian, please read the letters of the Founding Fathers and more times than not you will find quotes that support the right of the people to own firearms and for the government to fear said armed population.

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