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Council Backs Reauthorization of Federal Assault Weapons Ban

Fair Lawn council passed a resolution Tuesday in support of reauthorizing the federal assault weapons ban and requiring more extensive background checks on prospective gun owners.

The borough council affirmed its support Tuesday for legislation that would reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and require more extensive background checks for prospective gun owners.

The resolution, which passed 4-1 with Deputy Mayor Jeanne Baratta casting the lone dissenting vote, amounts to little more than a symbolic measure, but one that council members and members of the public alike agreed was an important step to take.

"Enough is enough, it’s time we learned to live with less guns," said Councilwoman Lisa Swain, who introduced the resolution at the Jan. 22 council work session. "As a society we are always looking for ways to improve safety, and this resolution is one small step toward the safety and well being of our citizens."

Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski supported the resolution, despite expressing some reservations. He called the resolution a "reasonable compromise" and said he would soon bring his own resolution before council that would touch on additional elements he felt were important to providing a more comprehensive solution to gun violence.

Trawinski said he did not subscribe to the slippery slope argument that imposing tighter gun laws would ultimately lead to a complete overturning of the Second Amendment.

"I believe that the Supreme Court of the United States will look out for protecting our rights under the Second Amendment and under the Bill of Rights," he said. "It can be said for almost anything that seeks to limit something that you start down a slippery slope. I think that’s an argument of convenience, but not an argument of reality."

The resolution originally appeared on the consent agenda, meaning that it had unanimous council support, but Baratta pulled it before the meeting because of the wording of parts of the resolution.

"There’s many parts of this that I do absolutely support, but there’s parts of it that I just can’t support," she said. "I’m sorry that I can’t support this as written, but I applaud my fellow council members for doing that."

Baratta said she supported more extensive background checks on gun buyers, but expressed concerns about the resolution's failure to define key terms like "assault weapon," and what she considered its mischaracterization of the Second Amendment and its vague language.

"Things like, 'Whereas research has shown that having guns leads to more gun violence.' You can replace that with, “Whereas research has shown that having cars leads to more car accidents,” Baratta said. "I find that to be a little bit lacking." 

Gebhardt Zurburg, a representative of the Fair Lawn branch of the Bergen County Coalition Against Gun Violence, was one of a number of residents who spoke in support of the resolution at Tuesday's meeting.

"As a Fair Lawn resident, you make me and our citizens proud to be able to say that our council was taking a leadership role in the campaign for gun safety," Zurburg said.

The council's resolution (attached as PDF) will be sent to federal, state and county government officials, the League of Municipalities, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the mayors of every municipality in Bergen County.

Councilman Kurt Peluso encouraged residents to attend the next council work session for a discussion of recent state legislation proposed by Sens. Bob Gordon and Dick Codey that would outlaw magazines equipped to hold more than five rounds.

"I think this is an issue that’ll be at the forefront probably for the whole year until we see something come at the national level," he said.

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Deleted because of harassment February 22, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Yeah, Mike. Make another pointless generalization. Honestly, I do not believe that private citizens need handguns, and very few of them have adequate training or skills to own them. I believe the rest of the world refers to that as civilization. Meanwhile, in the US, we have cult-like followers that cling to their ability to kill others and bypass the justice and legal system at the same time with concealed firearms and paramilitary weapons. And the corporations that make huge profits from the rain of death on the innocent at the hands of the paranoid and want to keep it that way. How many more dead since Newtown? You can count that toll in human bodies or in dollars; either way it's disgusting and sick.
Chris Antonelli February 22, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Deleted, You should specify that you are referring to criminals and not legal gun owners.And your opinion is your opinion. Please refer to our Constitution. The second amendment means more now than ever with the current administration.
Michael Agosta February 22, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Pointless generalization? BTW the article is about rifles not handguns. Don't infringe on someone else's rights because you choose not to own a gun. Your intolerance is equal to those who denied the right to vote to millions because they had a different skin color.
Deleted because of harassment February 24, 2013 at 02:36 AM
Had to go there, hey, Mike....toss the comments off into another tangent. And for both of you, the Second Amendment refers to militias, not the self-appointed protectors against a government they don't like when they don't like the election results. When they want to stick to the arms that were borne by the people of 1784, I'll accept the application of the law if they enlist in a militia. But what is being excused by that same amendment now has nothing to do with even the wildest dreams of the founders of this country. (and for those that missed the little sidenote, please check the owners of "gunpolicy.org" - and then check the FBI crime statistics, which includes both homicides, death by accident and suicide. 30,000 a year is a low estimate.)
Michael Agosta February 24, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I made a similar comparison of two different amendments. The 15th Amendment guarantees citizens the right to vote. However, certain citizens disagreed with this and used their own interpretations to deny that right. The same is (attempting) to be done with the 2nd Amendment. People like yourself do not agree and want to deny others their rights. Remember, just because you don't like something doesn't make it wrong. Finally, you write like you have first-hand knowledge of the Founding Father's insight of the Bill of Rights. Come back to reality. Your opinion is just that....an opinion.

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