It’s notable when any locality says “no” to restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, but when that town was home to one of the worst mass murders in American history, it’s definitely a newsworthy event. Gun control activists intent on banning legally carried firearms on town property in Newtown, Connecticut were thwarted this week after members of the town board deadlocked 6-6 on three proposed ordinances that would have targeted legal gun owners with restrictions on possessing guns in public.
The decision came after the board heard from gun control activists who said they were intimidated at protests by armed Second Amendment supporters. The debate showed how the gun control discussion remains active in Newtown long after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed 20 first-graders and six educators. The eighth anniversary of the shooting is coming up on Dec. 14.After listening to testimony from both sides of the issue Wednesday night by phone because of the pandemic, the Newtown Legislative Council deadlocked in 6-6 votes on whether to refer three proposed gun restriction ordinances to the council’s Ordinance Committee, effectively killing the requests.Members of the Newtown Action Alliance, formed after the school shooting to prevent gun violence, had proposed the measures, in response to feeling threatened by gun rights advocates carrying firearms during protests outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry group that happens to be based in Newtown.“It’s disheartening and disappointing to live in a community where the leaders are choosing not to take our recommendations seriously, particularly after what we’ve been through in this community,” said Po Murray, a local resident and chair of the alliance.
Ryan Knapp, a Republican member of Newtown’s Legislative Council, voted against the proposed gun restrictions, questioning whether the town could prohibit gun owners from doing things they’re allowed to do under state law.“Different people feel different ways about this,” he said. “I think ultimately this is a legal question and not a feelings question. And I don’t think it’s our purview to decide that. And I don’t want to commit the taxpayers of Newtown to funding the defense of that if I’m not confident it’s legal.”