WESTON, Conn. – In the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, Weston is prepared to introduce new weapons ordinances that may go beyond state and federal regulations.
The ordinances that Selectman Dennis Tracey presented at Thursday night’s meeting have three main goals: to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; to enforce safe, secure storage of weapons; and to require registration of all firearms in town.
Selectman David Muller said the new ordinances "can't pre-empt state and federal laws, but they can go further as long as we don't violate constitutional rights."
First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said, “We should move forward to protect ourselves. We shouldn't wait for the state and federal government to make new regulations but if our ordinances conflict with new state or federal laws, we can change them later.”
Town residents in attendance generally supported the passage of new restrictions but warned the selectmen not to infringe on the rights of gun owners.
One resident asked how the ordinances would be enforced, and Tracey said the town would “give a period of time for gun owners to register their firearms, and then violators would be dealt with according to law,” which would involve fines.
The issue of residential target practice was also brought up, with Tracey noting that 12- to 16-year-olds will be permitted to shoot in the presence of their parents. The danger of target practice being conducted near a neighbor’s home was also considered, but Mark Harper, Weston's animal control officer, who was in the audience, said a state law prohibits shooting within 500 feet of a neighbor’s property, so the new ordinances wouldn’t need to address the issue.
The selectmen agreed to revise the ordinances in response to public comments and hold a public hearing later, which will allow gun owners to be heard.