Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli said he will ask the town attorney to consider gun control proposals suggested by resident Don Evanson, who came to a Town Council meeting recently to suggest stricter local laws.
The call for stricter gun control measures comes after the Newtown, Conn. massacre last year in which 20 innocent children were killed by a gunman in an elementary school. While the school administration, police, mayor, and council members met in December to discuss increasing security and took action within the school district, Evanson is calling for stricter control of individual gun owners who live in town.
“The slaughter of children and adults in Newtown has raised the stakes in a society that casually accepted weapons as a way for individuals to act out by killing other people to express their own anger, outrage, emotional pain or love’s rejection,” said Evanson. “The Town Council has an obligation to protect, not just the children of Secaucus, but all 17,000 residents of this wonderful town.”
Weapons census, buyback program, and background checks
Evanson read off a list of four proposals he wants local officials to consider. One would require gun owners to store all high-capacity magazine weapons in a secure location overseen by a local enforcement official. They could be checked out with proper identification and proof of a permit.
He also suggested that the Police Department update background checks on all gun owners who purchased high-capacity magazine weapons more than two years ago to confirm eligibility of ownership.
“90 percent of guns that are picked up by Police Department come from the South.” – Anthony D’Elia
Among his proposals, he suggested that the town conduct a weapons census to confirm that the weapons currently owned match existing permit records, that serial numbers match, and that no unauthorized weapon is stored within town. He also wants owners to sign an affidavit stating that the weapons reviewed are the only ones in their possession.
Finally, Evanson wants the town to launch a local gun buyback program for high-capacity magazine weapons.
Buyback programs have been popular in Jersey City, which recently held one at the start of the New Year. Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and the Jersey City Police Department organized the effort, which yielded more than 120 weapons. Healy, alongside representatives of the North Jersey Chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control, also planned to rally on Jan. 26 to advocate for tougher national and state gun control laws.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli was reluctant to take a stand on the issue but said the town attorney will look at Evanson’s proposals to determine what can be done locally.
“Everything you say, I can’t say I agree or disagree,” said Gonnelli. “I don’t know what our local ordinances can or cannot do.”
He pointed to activity that is happening at the federal level such as the actions taken by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama as well as actions at the state level.
Biden spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 17 in Washington, D.C. and stressed the need for a universal background check. He also asked the mayors to support a ban on high-capacity gun magazines. His talk came a day after Obama unveiled a bold package of gun control reforms.
During Evanson’s remarks he mentioned how the coalition of 800 Mayors Against Illegal Guns had spoken out on more effective weapons legislation and how New York State, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, passed tighter restrictions on weapons’ possession.
Police force fully staffed, promotions forthcoming
At the state level, Gov. Chris Christie recently formed a task force on violence.
“I believe New Jersey has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country,” said Gonnelli. New Jersey actually has the second strictest set of laws after California according to a 2011 scorecard from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Gonnelli said he wanted to take an opportunity to conduct research on the matter but he said the police department is fully staffed especially with the latest round of hires.
“We’re fully staffed,” noted Gonnelli. “We will shortly be making promotions to sergeant and lieutenant…we have a pretty good record to stand on.”
“I represent a number of communities and have close relationships with police chiefs,” said Anthony D’Elia, town attorney. “The most common thing we see is that 90 percent of guns that are picked up by the Police Department come from the South.”
He noted that most confiscated weapons are brought in from southern states.
“I’m sure some of this is being done in some ways in Secaucus.”
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.