The November City Council meeting was well attended which wasn't a surprise given the proposals that were being considered. The meeting was two hours long and was live streamed on the Chronicles website and Facebook page. For those that don't have time to watch a two hour video here is a recap of the meeting.
The meeting started with Mayor Villanova's multi pronged proposal to prevent gun violence.
Section one of her proposal was a reward program for tips leading to arrests of people carrying illegal weapons. This was the least contentious of the proposals. There didn't seem to be any issues with this part of the proposal.
Section two of the proposal is meant to stop giving plea deals for crimes involving illegal weapons. There was a great debate if there were actually any charges brought to court for illegal weapons. Doctor Stone summed it up her questions with these words, " Because I'm not seeing charges for illegal guns here, so how are you saying plea deals are being offered for, and I quote, 'The second part is to stop giving plea deals for crimes involving illegal weapons', if there are not any charges for illegal weapons ... then... how are you basing the plea deals offered for illegal weapons used?" The SD stated there had been cases brought forth with charges of gun crimes by felons where the defendant received a plea deal. However the SD did not have the hard numbers to back up that claim. There was a lot of back and forth between Doctor Stone and Sheriff Jade about the specifics of this section.
Section Four of the proposal was in procuring a grant for the Sheriff's Department to test and catalog all ballistics evidence. There were no questions or concerns about this section of the proposal.
Section five of the proposal is to offer self defense classes with the mayor offering to teach them. This section did not have any questions or concerns by those present.
Section Six proposed a campaign to get people to call 911 and report problems before they turned violent. There was a couple questions about this increasing the call volume to 911 for nuisance calls and the necessity of a campaign telling people to do something they should already know to do. However it was brought up that some people choose not to involve the law and a campaign encouraging people to do so would be beneficial.
Section Three of the proposal was only briefly addressed and the mayor asked to put that proposal on hold as it was causing the most passionate responses by the citizens. There was a comment card, submitted by an Andrew Smith that was read into the record by Sheriff Jade. That quote is being included in this article as it is evidence of how contentious this topic is for the community.
"The fact of the matter is, the red flag law, as proposed, cannot be permitted to exist. You can frame it as an issue of safety, you can offer as many empty promises as you want that it will only be used to go after 'The right people', but at the end of the day, it boils down to one simple fact."
"You are suggesting that we punish people before they have been convicted of a felony. It does not matter *why* you want to do this - It may be a grab for power, you may genuinely believe that you are doing 'the right thing'. But you are attempting to strip a right away from someone without enough solid proof to secure a conviction."
"I know that some people may believe that it should not be a right - And while I will vehemently disagree with those people, and am happy to discuss that at another time, the fact of the matter is that it *is* a right. Infringement of it on this scale - Of seizing firearms from people who have not yet been convicted - Is absolutely inexcusable, and would not stand up to even the slightest scrutiny."
"I am here, unarmed for once in my life, because I believe strongly enough that you need to be made aware of how unacceptable what you are doing is. You need to know that this sort of thing is not permitted. I am cynical enough to believe that you propose these things for selfish reasons, and hopeful enough to believe that you may just be well-intended but poorly-informed. But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and so is the road to governmental overreach. And the goodness of those intentions does not at all influence how damaging they can be. The answer is 'No,' and now somebody has told you that."
There was a lot of debate about the merits of the different parts of this proposal but in the end there weren't any votes on it. The Governor suggested a conference call for further discussion and resubmission to the city for review. At this, Mayor Villanova showed visible frustration. She stated, "Sure we can push everything off for another month, see how many more shootings we have. Even better, push it off two months and let it be the next Mayor's problem."
The Sheriff also seemed frustrated that there hadn't been more time to address her proposal. The Sheriff responded, "...that means anyone that is a licensed gun owner, should be aware you can't carry your weapon loaded until we are able to discuss my proposal about modifying our current gun permit rules. Guess that's another criminal code I should be sure to add to the list as that might be getting a lot of citations in the next few weeks"
The Governor encouraged everyone to keep talking and pointed out how this is a long process to get approved, especially a proposal with so many layers.
Layers. So Villanova's proposal is an onion. For some, it's making them cry with frustration and anxiety and for others, we just want a blooming onion with some special sauce.