RTM Votes to Support Gun Control Petition


On Jan. 8, the Representative Town Meeting voted to support a petition calling for stricter gun control. In a 27-1-3 vote, it was decided to symbolically support the petition, requesting that President Barack Obama enact bans on automatic and semi-automatic weapons, ban high-capacity magazine clips, and close what’s known as the gun show loophole.

At the meeting, Westport residents were given the opportunity to share views on the issue preceding the official vote. Melissa Kane, a member of District 3 and one of the leaders in the movement, spoke in favor of gun control. “[The petition] has the potential to be very powerful,” she said. “It could lead the way for other municipalities to follow suit.”

John Klinge, a District 7 representative and substitute teacher at Staples, endorsed the sense of the meeting resolution in favor of the petition.

“You can’t legislate against stupidity, but you can legislate for common sense,” Klinge said.

Although the RTM’s support for the petition would be symbolic, proponents of gun control felt that it would have a significant effect.

One Westport resident cited Congressman Jim Himes’s support for the petition.

Kane closed her comments with emphasizing the significance of the petition. “This is Westport. We do the right thing. What we do gets noticed,” she said.

However, not all speakers were in favor of the petition. “I worry about the erosion of liberty associated with further gun restriction,” said Westport resident Jim Whamond. “I’m here to support keeping the government out of the lives of law abiding citizens.”

Iain Bruce shared a different perspective. Bruce, whose son Cameron ‘10 died in Sept. 2010, did not ask members of the RTM to either support or reject the petition. Instead, he asked them to consider the connection between the current issue and the Newtown tragedy. “Before you cast your votes, ask yourselves whether it is worth the exploitation of kids’ deaths,” Bruce said. “The question of what to do with the death of a child is not up to politicians.”

However, John McCarthy, a member of RTM district 9, saw the resolution as a preventative measure rather than a political maneuver. “I’m not looking to exploit any child that died,” McCarthy said. “I’m looking to make sure there are not any more.”

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff emphasized the importance of safety, sharing with the audience that a the town’s plain clothes detective found a person with a BB gun present at the RTM meeting that very night. According to the Westport Now, an activist brought the weapon to the meeting in order to demonstrate the easy accessibility of firearms. Citing this incident and his own personal knowledge of gun violence, Joseloff expressed support for the petition.

The meeting closed with 27 in favor of the petition, one against, and three abstentions. Hadley Rose, moderator of the RTM, stated that the RTM would send copies of the petitions to the president and other elected officials.