Westford Selectmen Withdraw Proposal To Ban Assault Weapons

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

WESTFORD (CBS) – A thunderous round of applause and a standing ovation greeted the news Wednesday night that a proposed town bylaw to restrict some assault weapons was going to be officially withdrawn.

Westford Vice Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Robert Jeffries

Selectman Robert Jeffries

The overwhelming majority of the close to 400 people who packed a special meeting of the Westford Board of Selectmen opposed the idea.

The man who originally proposed it told the crowd the debate had not gone as he had hoped.

Vice Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Robert Jeffries said, “This was meant to be a discussion within the town of Westford, a community discussion that’s gotten way, way beyond that. We’re not really getting the discussion we want.”

After the meeting, Jeffries added that he had hoped he and his town would not be alone in an effort to restrict assault weapons and high-capacity firearms from the town.

“I thought there would be a [negative] reaction,” Jeffries said. “But I also thought maybe some other towns in Massachusetts might have also tried something similar and none of them did. So it left us isolated as the only ones.”

Westford residents at the meeting felt a sense of relief.

Don Kohl lives here and says the end of the bylaw is “Great. It was good for gun owners, it was good for everything, it was great.”
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No less than the president of the NRA himself offered comments on Westford.

David Keene happened to be in Massachusetts on Wednesday night, where he was taking part in a gun control discussion with students at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Of Westford’s attempt, Keene told WBZ, “One of the things that people in these town meetings and other folks ought to look at is the constitution itself. It is possible and it is legal to put certain restrictions on second amendment rights,” he continued, “but those kinds of restrictions have to be looked at very critically.”

Keene said any attempt to curtail gun ownership is misguided. He cited a recent FBI report on violent crimes when he claimed that hammers kill more Americans every year than guns.

“The murder weapon of choice in this country is the hammer. We’ve never had a three day waiting period for a hammer, although a lot of folks who have to-do lists from their wives might like one,” Keene said.

In fact, that FBI report indicated that “blunt objects” like hammers and clubs are responsible for more deaths than “rifles.” When other weapons like handguns and shotguns are included in the total, firearms then take the lead when it comes to deaths caused.

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