Newton City Council Wants To Prevent Gun Shops From Opening In Newton, Plans To Severely Restrict Gun Shop Zoning

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Should there be a gun shop in Newton, Massachusetts?

More than 9,500 people have signed onto a petition saying the city should not allow it to happen. Instead, they want to stop a new store called Newton Firearms before it opens.

The store, proposed by owner Joseph Abdallah Kammouj, would be the only gun shop in Newton. The location is 709 Washington Street in Newtonville, one of the 13 villages of the city, which has about 88,000 people.

Newton leans left. The city went 81 to 17 percent for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.

The business received a stop-work order on April 21 because the store owner lacked a building permit; he needed one to do renovations to the building. A stop-work order, as LevelSet points out, “is a legal tool used by project owners to shut down work on a construction job site until the issue is fixed or the parties reach an agreement.”

Newton City Council members and the city’s mayor are listening to anti-gun advocates, but their publicly stated aim so far is not to outlaw gun shops in the city, but to restrict them heavily.

All 24 councilors and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller proposed an ordinance that would require firearms businesses in the city to receive special permits from the city council to open. They would need at least a two-thirds vote for approval; that’s at least 16 of the 24 councilors. Additionally, new zoning rules would limit such stores to three of the city’s 11 districts that allow businesses and manufacturing.

The new rules would apply to firearms dealers, firing ranges, and gunsmiths. The proposed ordinance states that firearms businesses “shall not be located within a radius of 150 feet from any property containing a residential use,” “within 1,000 feet of any private or public k-12 school,” “within 1,000 feet of any daycare center, preschool, child-care facility, college or university, public park intended for passive or active recreation, playground, land or structures used for religious purposes, library, nursing home, or an existing Firearm Dealer or Firing Range at another location.”

The proposal also says that “no graphics, symbols or images of Firearms, Ammunition, or Firearm Accessories shall be displayed or clearly visible from the exterior of Firearm Business Uses” and gives the city council broader authority to implement further restrictions “to mitigate impact on the immediate neighborhood.” All of these businesses must be located “within a fully enclosed building,” — meaning it bans outdoor gun ranges. It also says that these businesses cannot open before 9 a.m. or stay open past 9 p.m. any day of the week.

The limitations are designed to keep all gun shops out of Newton for good, as members of the city council made clear during an online meeting May 17.

Some city officials say they can’t ban gun shops outright, for fear of running afoul of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees “the right to keep and bear arms.”

Councilor Andreae Downs described a delicate balance.

“The needle we’re trying to thread here is to find an ordinance that is strict enough to meet our needs,” Downs said during the meeting, “but not so strict that it would result in a legal challenge.”

This is in line with Mayor Ruthanne Fuller’s thinking on the matter, which she explained in her email newsletter last month. 

“The City Council has broad authority to regulate all land uses in Newton, including the location of firearms dealers,” the mayor wrote. “That said, in light of the nature of the issues and the implications of Constitutional protections, it may be reasonable to expect that the more restrictively firearm sales are regulated, the more likely such regulations will be subject to a court challenge.”

Yet the proposed restrictions don’t go far enough for some.

Councilor Emily Norton said she thinks there should be an explicit ban on gun shops in Newton. She also said she doesn’t want to vote for something that may allow a gun store in Newton in the future.

“Newton is a heavily built-up city,” Norton said during the May 17 city council meeting. “There is no far-off place where a gun store could be hidden away. I don’t want a gun store anywhere in Newton and from the emails we’re getting, a lot of Newton residents do not want a gun store anywhere in Newton.”

She later added that if there is a viable path to not allowing a gun store to open anywhere in Newton, that is what she wants to do.

Councilor Deborah Crossley said that the current focus should not be a total ban because that’s not what the original ordinance is about, but she said that everyone on the city council has the same end goal.

“I hope it goes without saying:  there’s nobody on the city council who wants to see a gun store open in our city,” Crossley said during the meeting. “Nobody. However, what we’re trying to do is to make sure that doesn’t happen sooner or later.”

In her April newsletter, the mayor said that the gun shop came to the attention of the city because it applied for a business license earlier in the year. She said that the gun shop met the required qualifications to open a business at that location because the city didn’t have any gun shop zoning restrictions in place at the time.

The pro-gun-control Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence sent a letter to Mayor Fuller and the Newton City Council commending them for their proposed zoning restrictions. 

“I write to offer our support for the proposed ordinance regulating gun dealers that seek to operate in the community,” states the letter, signed by Allison Anderman, senior counsel for the organization. “This ordinance would zone gun dealers to safe locations in the city, and impose other measures to deter and detect illegal gun sales and thefts. It will undoubtedly improve the public safety of the residents of Newton and surrounding communities.”

Former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, a Democrat who lives in Newton, has called for stronger restrictions on gun shops in the city.

On April 27, Kennedy posted a link on Facebook to He also wrote, “There shouldn’t be a gun store within one mile of a school, let alone six. Anywhere. Let’s stop it before it starts. Support the effort here:”

The Newton Republican City Committee, headed by Tom Mountain, is among those who oppose these proposed regulations on gun shops in the city.

“Since the Colonial Era the buying and selling of firearms in Newton was, until recently, routine, with gun shops (and gunsmiths) common in our community,” the city GOP committee wrote in a letter to the Newton City Council and mayor’s office. “Given the absence of such gun shops in Newton for decades, our citizens have been deprived of their basic right to purchase firearms in their own city for far too long. It is time for this to change.”

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, opposes the proposed restrictions on gun shops in Newton — and made the city a promise.

“If Newton zones out gun stores, the Second Amendment Foundation will sue them in federal court,” he told NewBostonPost in an email message. “The right to own a gun is infringed if you can not buy one.”

Newton Firearms could not be reached for comment last week.


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