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Weston gun ordinance hearing is Thursday

weston-gunThe Board of Selectmen is holding a public hearing on proposed changes to the town’s firearms ordinance next Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in the Meeting Room at town hall.

The selectmen are expected to vote on the proposed changes at their meeting at 7:30, immediately following the public hearing.

The full text of the updated draft ordinance is available on the town website, westonct.gov.

The selectmen began talking about revising the town’s gun ordinance, which has been on the books since 1990, immediately after the shootings in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. At that time, the selectmen expressed frustration at the historically slow pace of state and federal legislators when it came to tackling gun safety.

But in proposing changes at the local level as to how weapons — particularly assault weapons — are purchased, registered and stored, the town leaders attracted national attention from such groups as the National Rifle Association.

The latest incarnation of the draft proposal eliminates previous ideas to increase some permitting requirements and specific safe storage and ammunition requirements, and it changes definitions to more clearly reflect the language used in state statutes.

The draft ordinance does include a new preamble, however, that strongly recommends proper firearms training and safe storage practices.

The new proposal would also raise the penalty for violating any provision of the ordinance from $90 to $250.

Rather than attempting to ban ownership or possession of certain kinds of weapons — a proposition that raised legal and constitutional rights questions — the selectmen focused instead on prohibiting the discharge of certain weapons.

The new ordinance keeps the current prohibition of discharging machine guns or assault weapons anywhere in town.

In addition, under the new ordinance, other firearms could be discharged only under certain circumstances, such as for target practice (with a permit) and for use in defense.

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