I commend the Newport City Council for supporting the Gun Free Schools legislation currently proposed in the General Assembly. It takes courage to ignore gun proponents,something that the Middletown Town Council chosenot to do by a 3-3 vote.
The resolution was before the Middletown council for the second time and tabled again, the first time because “more information is needed,” the second time because a progun councilman was absent.
The amendment to the council docket was published on Friday, and it didn’t take long for both sides to start mass advocating. Notably, the supporters of the anti-gun legislation were local, primarily parents and teachers; most of the opponents were from out of town.
At the meeting, gun supporters wearing Second Amendment badges sat in the front rows in an obvious attempt to influence the Town Council, all having filled out papers showing their intention to speak. They were clearly frustrated when the council chose to table the item again, so much so that a town resident who was going to speak in favor of the legislation chose not to do so, explaining to the council by
e-mail: “After the meeting in the hallway ... (the) Second Amendment Coalition lobbyist made it clear to me that he intended to debate the merits of the gun issue with me after not having the opportunity to address the Council! … (He) did not want to take “no” foran answer to his invitation to discuss the issue and continued to push … it sure sounded like a threat or certainly intimidation.… I have no reason to believe my life is in danger, but it is a scary feeling to be intimidated like that.”
While I support the right of people to speak freely, I find this kind of conduct reprehensible and one more reason to support the Gun Free Schools legislation.
I am persuaded by the Middletown parents and teachers who do not want guns in their schools, and I am also persuaded by the reputable groups that support it as well, especially those closest to the issue: The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association; the National Education Association of Rhode Island; the state Association of School Committees, Association of School Principals, Superintendents Association and Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals; the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns; school committees in 18 Rhode Island communities; and already Town Councils in five Rhode Island communities, as well as multitudes of other religious and community organizations, including Sandy Hook School Team 26. Who better to say if guns belong in schools?
It is no small thing that “concealed carry” is already prohibited in schools in 39 other states. What are we waiting for?
Barbara A. VonVillas
Middletown Town Council Member