Town Council votes no on proposed school gun ban

Town Council votes no on proposed school gun ban

CUMBERLAND – Unexpectedly, the Cumberland Town Council has defeated a resolution that would have endorsed a proposed ban on concealed weapons in schools except when carried by law enforcement personnel.

The resolution, introduced at the May 4 meeting by President Craig Dwyer and unanimously supported by Police Chief John Desmarais, the Cumberland School Committee, the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, drew the support of only three of seven councilors after school board member Mark Fiorillo told councilors there’s been a sharp increase in the number of accidental shootings since more teachers and other staff personnel nationwide began carrying weapons in schools.

School Committee Chairwoman Lisa Beaulieu later commented, “It’s disappointing that opinion trumped fact in the council vote.”

The resolution was supporting pending General Assembly companion bills, H-7243 and S-2761, which cite a study by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., that found nationwide – not necessarily in schools – there were 722 deaths in 544 concealed-carry shootings from May 2007 to February 2015. Just 16 of the killings were deemed to be lawful self-defense.

During discussion, Councilor Scott Schmitt commented, “I know this is an incredibly emotionally charged issue, and my heart goes out to anyone affected.” But he asked about the General Assembly bills, “How does this make schools safer?”

He went on to question whether having someone working in the schools who has a valid permit might mean “we’re almost safer if they carry than if they don’t.” And he noted the bill’s exception that allows for weapons during gun safety classes.

“For me, I’ve got some issues with it. I don’t think it has enough teeth in it, and I don’t think it does what it’s intended to do and that is to make our schools safer,” Schmitt said.

Fiorillo told councilors, “One of the comments you always hear when these kinds of bills or resolutions come up is it’s not going to stop mass shootings, and that’s correct,” but he added he believes it will decrease accidental shootings. “And there’s always the concern that a student will get access to a gun that is in the schools.” The school board member continued, “The only way to protect them is to not allow any guns in school. This is more about accidental shootings than anything else.”

Voting against it were the majority: Councilors Peter Bradley, Art Lambi, Joshua Call-Fregeau, and Schmitt.

The unexpected defeat prompted President Dwyer to slam his gavel and angrily declare, “Now not only don’t we have love, peace and joy, but we’re not going to restrict guns. Thank you gentlemen. Where are we going in this world?”

The love and peace comment was a reference to a request by Mayor Bill Murray last month that Cumberland recognize May 1 as “Global Love Day.” Councilors Bradley, Call-Fregeau, Jim Scullin, and Schmitt opposed that measure as inappropriate for the Town Council.

Comments

Well, well. Real "common sense" prevails.

I rejoice at the anti-2A people's agony of defeat.

Why doesn't Dwyer just stomp his feet too! Grow up, be a leader not a baby.

I can tell you where we're going, Mr. Dwyer. We're headed toward some common sense decision making, that's where. Declaring a "Global Love Day" may make you feel better, but it's not the town council's job to engage in such nonsense. Next, "restricting guns" may make you feel good, but again, it's nonsense. If you believe, for one second, that a person hell bent on destruction is going to observe your "gun free zone," then you better take a good look at the real world. And, let me draw your attention to the Taunton stabber - without a gun in the hands of a good guy, many more people would have been killed. I'm glad that place wasn't a "gun free zone."

The legislation that has been proposed in RI allows for policemen to carry. So, the good guy who shot the Taunton stabber would still have been able to do what he did.

I recommend those who are anti gun place a large sign or billboard in their front yard declaring their home/property a gun free zone.