The Gun-Free-Zone Debate On A Municipal Scale

A ruckus over a proposed ordnance banning guns on town-owned property in Connecticut reflects the national concealed-carry debate.

A crowd of about 1,000 turned out for a public hearing on the matter in Southbury, Connecticut.
A crowd of about 1,000 turned out for a public hearing on the matter in Southbury, Connecticut.photo from newstimes.com

One of the core sticking points in the national debate over concealed carry bubbled up in Southbury Connecticut this week during a public hearing on a proposed town ordnance that would ban concealed carry firearms on town-owned property like libraries, playgrounds, and other public buildings.

Supporters of the measure in the town of 20,000 people, of which about 1,700 have carry permits according to this story from courant.com, say it will make residents safer.

The hearing drew nearly 1,000 people to the auditorium of Pomperaug High School.

“It’s a sensible ordinance,’’ said Marianne Derwin, a resident of the Heritage Village retirement community in town. “Libraries, playgrounds and public buildings are not an appropriate place for concealed weapons. There’s absolutely no reason to bring a gun to a library.”

Opponents argue that knowing people are in public places where groups often gather and nobody is armed makes them a greater potential target. It’s the same debate that has raged over the usefulness of gun-free zones, but on a municipal scale.

“’Gun-free zones invite criminals,’ declared Francis Bresson, a 60-year-old retired environmental police commander. “Scott Wilson, the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, told the selectmen that criminals intent on harming people are unlikely to abide by such an ordinance.

“’In Sandy Hook, right down the road, the killer murdered his mother, stole her guns, illegally transported them on the roads, went into a gun-free zone, shot his way into the school and then murdered 26 innocent faculty and school children,’ Wilson said. ‘Does anyone really think that … a Utopian piece of fantasy municipal code will make anyone safer?’”

Southbury actually borders Newtown, Connecticut.

"We don't believe it's necessary to carry guns on public property,'' said Ron Pinciaro, the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, in the story. "In Connecticut, all you need to do to prohibit guns from coming into your establishment is post a sign saying you don't want guns, so certainly cities have the right to do that."

Pinciaro clearly has difficulty understanding the difference between a private business and public property.

John Lott, of the Crime Prevention Research Center says data collected between 1988 and 2015 showed only about 3.8 percent of mass shootings occurred in areas where guns were allowed to be carried by private citizens.

He defined mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people were killed in public, excluding those that occurred within the commission of another crime, like armed robbery.

A vote on the matter in Southbury has not yet been scheduled.