Council postpones vote on resolution for gun control

After 2 hours of back-and-forth debate, the Claremont City Council decided not to decide on gun control. At least for another couple weeks.

With Sam Pedroza absent from the Tuesday night meeting, the the council supported refraining from a vote adopting a resolution in support of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 until all were present. The decision was made with a 3-1 vote with Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali casting the dissenting vote because he believed the council was ready to make a decision. With the same 3-1 vote, Mayor Larry Schroeder will also hold off on adding his name to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The vote is expected to take place at the next council meeting on March 26.

The assault weapons ban is currently being considered by the US Congress in response to recent mass shootings. If approved, the ban would stop “the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices,” according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, author of the bill.

Refraining from a vote may not have been a favorable decision by all in the room, but the council, even with its difference of opinion on the topic, left the vote undecided without qualms.

“Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, Libertarian, Tea Partiest or Decline-to-State, having the public debate that we had tonight is a win-win situation,” said Mayor Larry Schroeder. “It airs the viewpoints of everybody.”

The crowd amassed at City Hall was reflective of the divide, with equal debate from all sides of the issue. There was standing-room only in the City Council Chamber despite the relatively light council agenda. And not without reason. Issues of gun control have been a dominant area of debate as Claremonters and citizens across the country ponder the recent succession of mass shootings. In the wake of the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, among others, the nation has remained divided on the topic of guns—is stricter gun control the answer to the problem or would it only infringe upon the Constitutional right to bear firearms? Should guns be banned or more thorough gun education encouraged?

These were among the questions posed to the city council before a decision would be made. Claremont residents came to the meeting equipped with their own array of answers, from those calling for support of the ban to those calling for the city to give it a rest on localizing national issues.

“What would be appropriate is to have a discussion, in a different venue of course, on firearms and the Second Amendment,” suggested Claremont resident Douglas Lyon. “What is not appropriate is for a special interest pressure group to ask this council to adopt a Constitution-hostile resolution, which would presume to speak for all of Claremont on the national issue, an issue over which this council has no jurisdiction.”

Others begged to differ.

“People here can get killed like in Newton, Colorado, Utah, Arizona or anywhere else,” said Claremont resident Robert Smith.

Mr. Pedroza will be in the hotseat next week as opinions voiced by council members at the meeting suggest a split on the matter. Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali and Corey Calaycay said they felt the city should not be voting for or against an issue that is clearly so divided in the community. Mayor Larry Schroeder and Joe Lyons acknowledged their support of gun control.

Check out this Friday’s edition of the COURIER for the complete story.

—Beth Hartnett


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