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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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Stuart Pace January 31, 2013 at 05:14 PM
I hope the council pays for the stamps personally for all the letters they are mailing to the President, etc. How much did we spend to have the Borough Attorney draw up this resolution? Is this what I pay taxes for? Is this the Councils job? I don't think so.
Marinus Broekman January 31, 2013 at 05:22 PM
That resolution seems eminently appropriate. I wholeheartedly support it. I do not understand why anyone cannot support it, despite vagueness of certain definitions. Assault-style weapons such as the AK47 and AR15 have no business being available to ordinary citizens or residents. Obviously it has been criminal of Congress to let the ban on assault rifles and high capacity "magazines" expire, and these should be re-instituted ASAP. Moreover, ALL transactions involving firearms of all kinds as well as ammunition sales should be subject to passing a background check.
Michael Agosta January 31, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Why are rifles being targeted since handguns are used 15-20 times more in murders? http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8 If you choose not to own a gun do not infringe on anyone else's rights. DUIs cause over 10,000 deaths a year. Should cars be banned? http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html Please learn the subject matter before running your mouth.
Hungary Hypos January 31, 2013 at 08:33 PM
stamps on me ! better use of money than fancy lawn signs
Hungary Hypos January 31, 2013 at 08:36 PM
if you ban cars how will people get to work, transport goods, etc.... if cars were banned today society would be a mess tomorrow. if you ban high capacity clips and weapons designed for war tonight society would be the same tomorrow. apples to oranges michael
JR January 31, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Why do you support the AWB. What makes you think banning guns based on cosmetic differences makes any sense at all.
Deleted because of harassment January 31, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Assault weapons have no place in the hands of private individuals. Firearms kill 30,000 people a year in the US - including 26 in an elementary school in Newtown, CT and 1433 individuals in the US since that slaughter. I don't want to learn the subject matter anymore than I have since guns killed a president, two civil rights leaders, a candidate for president, a member of the best known music group of a generation and hundreds of thousands of unknowns since this issue first came to the forefront in 1963. I am tired of learning about this issue. I am tired of hearing about shootings in shopping malls and schools and corporate offices and in cities and small towns. The cult of murder has taken a lot more vicitms that it has ever protected from weapons and maimed and left for dead 10 times more. Assault weapons are intended for one purpose alone - to kill as many subjects as possible in the shortest amount of time. A semi-automatic can fire once with each pull of the trigger, up to six times in a second, meaning a weapon with a 100 round clip can fire the entire clip in little over a minute in the hands of a skilled shooter. While the Second Amendment is a convenient excuse for gun owners, it does not override the right to life as stated in the First. This resolution is just a gesture, but it represents more concrete action completed by a government since Ronald Reagan was shot - by a gun.
LENNY February 01, 2013 at 02:45 PM
all the time money our council used on this was a total waste as they have no control on this matter. what they have control over is our tax base and maybe should also but the bug in our school board as other towns do that costs have to be but under control. DO WE NEED A SKATE PARK FAKE GRASS ON BALL FIELDS as one party stated this past election FAIR LAWN FIRST How about and effort to do away with medical benfits for council menbers like SADDLE BROOK LEAD BY EXAMPLE IF YOU WANT TO DO THE TALK DO THE WALK.
Chris Antonelli February 01, 2013 at 04:11 PM
There is a world out there beyond the confines of Fair Lawn. You see, there is a need for semi-automatic rifles and hand guns with high capacity clips. Go down to a border state and speak with farmers and property owners that have to deal with Mexican drug runners carrying those very same weapons running through their property. Some of which were allowed to go over the border by this administration. I cannot understand why anyone would support banning a freedom. The "Assault Weapons Ban" did not do anything. The facts are out there to prove it. How about we ban Liberal journalists? Or at least deport Martin Bashir. And while we're at it, lets ban: Assault cars, planes, trains, knives, baseball bats, hammers, minorities (85% of our prison population), police, military.........
Michael Agosta February 01, 2013 at 08:12 PM
It's human life to human life. Leave the fruit out of it. The weapons that are being discussed are not ones designed for war. It's obvious you do not possess guns. Therefore, you want no one else to have them. If you're so worried about human life, talk about your stance on preventing 1,200,000 babies from being killed each year in this country.
Michael Agosta February 01, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Lincoln was killer by Booth using a single shot flintlock. Kennedy was killed by Oswald using a bolt action rifle. Lennon was killed by Chapman using a .38 revolver (handgun). RFK was killed by Sirhan Sirhan using a .22 revolver (the same brand that killed McKinley) Gun homicides account for 11,000 NOT 30,000 as you stated. http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-states The First Amendment is Freedom of Speech not right to life. The Second Amendment is not a convenient excuse. It is a right. Not an entitlement. Regan was shot by a mentally challenged person named John Hinckley using a .22 cal revolver. There's a big difference between semi automatic rifles, bolt action rifles, black powder rifles and revolvers. Seems like you want no US citizen to possess a gun.
Jenne February 01, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I find it disingenuous for people to claim that deadly weapons should be easier to obtain and own and subject to less regulation than a means of transportation. After all, if 'shall not be infringed' really meant just that, it would be unconstitutional to prevent ANY random people from bearing arms in the presence of the president of the united states*, in prison, or as a felon. It has been argued-- notably by the 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate, Bob Barr-- that it is unconstitutional to infringe on the rights of those who have a domestic violence conviction or protection from abuse order out against them to own guns, if their domestic abuse issue occurred before the passing of the said law. (As for the founders of the country, even the most famous members of the Continental Congress were at odds on one issue or another: Adams and Jefferson started the first two political parties and nearly destroyed the United States between them while Washington was still President.)
Jenne February 01, 2013 at 09:11 PM
No one is arguing that all regulation of cars and drivers is an infringement of basic freedoms, so we do in fact regulate both cars and drivers, costing the average citizen of New Jersey in excess of $1000/yr. At this time, there is not a significant movement out there to 'ban' all weapons despite the gun rights protestors' claims. What there is, is a movement to regulate what style of gun can be bought, and perhaps enforce our existing laws about who may buy a gun. In addition, the years since the expiration of the assault weapons ban has lead directly to the purchasing of ever increasing numbers of 'assault-style weapons', purchasing being spurred on by the gun rights' movements claims that the government is going to ban them. Since at this point the lack of such a ban amounts to supporting a marketing tactic by gun manufacturers, one way to limit the excess numbers of guns in circulation is to remove the marketing tactic.
Michael Agosta February 02, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Please describe an "assault-style weapon" in your opinion. NJ has some of the most stringent gun laws. What else should be done? The next step is to ban all guns for law-abiding citizens. That would be great for criminals! Good plan.
why didn't I think of that February 07, 2013 at 05:01 PM
The 2nd ammendment does not state that an individual has the right to possess guns but people within an organized militia to secure their state. It specifically says militia.
why didn't I think of that February 07, 2013 at 05:03 PM
It is one sentence describing people of a militia not a solo individual
David Orr February 21, 2013 at 11:32 PM
@ why didn't i think of that: the supreme court disagrees with you.
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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