A memorializing resolution calling on state and federal lawmakers to enact stricter gun laws and refuse donations from gun rights groups will go before the Common Council after receiving unanimous support in a committee vote last week. Meanwhile, city Republicans have blasted the resolution as overblown and undemocratic.
The Laws and Rules Committee took up the resolution, drafted by council Majority Leader Rennie Scott-Childress (D-Ward 3), at its March 21 meeting. The resolution cites statistics on gun violence and makes the case for stricter gun laws at the state and federal level.
Scott-Childress’s resolution does not call for or enact further restrictions on firearms in Kingston. Instead, the non-binding resolution calls on state and federal officials to push for stronger gun laws, including licensing and registration, insurance coverage for firearms, a ban on assault-type weapons and the repeal of a federal law that prohibits federal funding for research on the causes of gun violence. The resolution also calls for lawmakers to enact more anti-bullying programs in school and to refuse campaign contributions from pro-gun groups like the NRA.
In an emailed response to Kingston Times, City of Kingston Republican Committee Chairman Charles Polacco called the resolution a rushed effort that contained “exaggerations,” “hyperbole” and “cherry-picked information.” Polacco also criticized what he said was the rapid pace of the resolution’s progress through the council, without a public hearing or, in his opinion, meaningful efforts to solicit community input.
“It’s a statement prepared by one person, brought before six people and passed unedited without any public comment,” Polacco wrote. “Now it will go before the full council for consideration and a push to pass it immediately after allowing people three minutes worth of comments. Does that sound like a message generated by ‘We the People,’ or by a dominating party’s interest?”
Polacco called on the council to table the resolution pending a special committee meeting, where members of the public could submit potential edits to the document.
“Otherwise it is really only a statement that reflects the agenda of a handful of politicians, not public opinion,” Polacco wrote. “We believe that the wide range of opinions to weigh in on this topic deserve to be heard by the community.”
The resolution comes amid the fierce national debate over gun rights in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead. The shooting spurred nationwide protests and school walkouts in support of stronger gun laws.
Student organizers of a March 14 walkout at Kingston High School have lent their support to the resolution. It’s expected to come before the full Common Council at their April 3 meeting.