The board of directors united behind a resolution on gun violence Tuesday, but Republican members, concerned about some language in the document, had initially planned to abstain from voting.
The resolution says the board will sustain the memory of gun violence victims, honor first responders and back all local, state and federal actions that target illegal guns.
The board's minority party members were, of course, not opposed to the document's central message of reducing gun deaths and supporting victims' families, Republican member Cheri Pelletier said Wednesday. But the first draft of the resolution also included sections advocating universal background checks for all gun sales and prohibiting sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Those issues are not within local jurisdiction, so it didn't make sense to include them in a local resolution, Pelletier said. Donald Palmer, a resident who addressed the board, made the same point and noted that a lawsuit has been filed against a recently passed state law that covers those very issues.
Palmer, of Overlook Drive, said discussion of gun violence must be based on facts, not emotion. He cited statistics that show handguns, not rifles and shotguns, are used in most gun deaths and also called for a focus on criminals, not law-abiding gun owners.
"We already know who the bad guys are," Palmer said.
Palmer said he also wanted to know how the resolution came about and which board member proposed it.
The document emerged, Deputy Mayor Jay Moran said, after a group from St. Bridget Church approached him about a communal stance against gun violence. Moran, a Democrat, worked with the group to draft the resolution, which cited the mass shooting in Newtown on Dec. 14, when a gunman killed 20 young students and seven women, and the slaughter at Hartford Distributors in Manchester on Aug. 3, 2010, when a worker shot and killed eight fellow employees. Both shooters committed suicide.
The resolution also cited "daily reports of gun violence resulting in deaths and injuries to innocent people throughout the country" and how "the shock and grief of these murders continue to sear our consciousness and trouble our souls."
During the discussion Tuesday night, Pelletier said, the board found a way to declare its awareness of gun violence and "encapsulate everything that's within our power to do."
The board agreed to strike sections covering background checks, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and add sections that included commitments to provide mental health services and fight bullying and gangs and a promise to work with community organizations and schools "to promote a positive, safe and healthy community for all our citizens."
Moran said his response to critics who would label the resolution a "feel-good" action was: "This isn't about feeling good; this is about not feeling good."
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