Lexington recoils from bid to ban certain gun types
By Evan Lips | March 10, 2016, 14:12 EDT
LEXINGTON — A liberal activist and prominent Harvard University scholar wants to ban a lengthy list of semi-automatic firearms in a town famous for its Battle Green and its role in launching the American Revolution.
Hundreds of people showed up at a Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday night, in which resident Robert Rotberg’s proposal to ban assault weapons was discussed at length, according to the Lexington Minuteman. The newspaper reported that Rotberg’s citizens’ petition may be presented either as a proposed bylaw amendment to the Town Meeting that starts March 21 or as a resolution the town would submit to state lawmakers asking to tighten existing state laws. The board opposed Rotberg’s proposed bylaw change to create a ban.
“Adopting such a bylaw would show that Lexington through its elected representatives is prepared to take another stand for liberty, and against mass violence,” Rotberg is quoted as saying during the meeting. “Banning assault weapons does not infringe upon the right to own a gun in Lexington, only the right to own a weapon capable of many killings.”
Rotberg, 80, served as president emeritus of Tufts University’s World Peace Foundation from 1993 until 2010 and as director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1999 until 2010.
Rotberg’s proposal features a much stricter definition of assault weapons than the one found in state law, according to the Minuteman. A Boston Globe report noted that those who spoke out at the meeting against Rotberg’s proposal stressed the irony of banning certain firearms from a community where the first shots of the Revolution were fired on the town common.
The Minuteman report indicated Rotberg asked selectmen to endorse a non-binding resolution version of his proposal that, if passed at Town Meeting, would be submitted to the state Legislature. The Globe reported that three selectmen opposed the resolution while the board’s chairman said he was undecided. There are five members on the town’s governing board.
Police Chief Mark Corr was also one of those who spoke out against Rotberg’s proposed bylaw change.
“This bylaw is not enforceable, and I ask you not to put me in a position to have to try,” he said, according to the Globe. “I do not want to see the irony that a law intended to save a life may actually cost a life trying to enforce it.”
Rotberg told the Globe that after failing to win the board’s support for a resolution he is weighing his options and still may introduce a proposed bylaw version when Town Meeting convenes next month, noting that he “has the support of many Town Meeting members.”