Editorial: Weapons-free zones proposal seems reasonable

The proposed ordinance to ban guns and other weapons from city buildings, parks and open space areas seems like a reasonable proposal.

So reasonable, in fact, that the “weapons-free zone” proposal introduced by Alderman Jack Finn is helping to highlight the worst in extremism on both sides.

Some Second Amendment activists suggest the ordinance could lead to increased crime because there would be nothing to deter gun-toting criminals from targeting people in these weapons-free zones.

They worry the ordinance is the start of an effort to take people’s guns away from them, empowering the government over the people. That is not what the proposal would do. It simply would ban weapons — from guns to crossbows — from certain places.

Guns do not belong everywhere.

Finn was partly motivated to put forth the ordinance after learning about a gun training class in the city-owned complex that includes the Shelton Community Center and Huntington Branch Library. His detractors point out that guns in such a class are not loaded, but it still seems a bit awkward in a modern American suburb to consider having such weapons in close proximity to places where children of all ages regularly gather.

Gun-control advocates have been going overboard lately, too. How about when U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy demanded that Fox-TV not broadcast the NRA 500, a car race in Texas, a few weeks ago? The National Rifle Association advocates for a legal product, and has a perfect right to sponsor a car race. And Fox-TV certainly has the right to air the race.

The NRA 500 did not take place in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, despite Murphy’s rhetoric to the contrary.

Finn is not suggesting that guns be confiscated from legal owners. He is only asking that people who have the right to carry concealed weapons in most places not be able to do so on municipal property, including school buildings. Law enforcement officials and properly certified security guards would be exempt from the ban.

Regulating guns has always been an emotional issue — and sensitivities certainly were raised in this region after the shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School left 26 children and educators dead. The terrible tragedy touched everyone.

Whether someone believes that gun ownership is what stands between citizens and tyranny, or that guns are an evil that cause the senseless death of too many innocent people, people must respect opposing views. That’s what we do in America.

We encourage aldermen not to automatically follow the wishes of gun supporters on this one but to carefully consider whether they think a library, community center, government office, or school is truly a place where people should be allowed to bring weapons.

Of course, banning weapons in such places won’t eliminate the possibility of violence occurring in these venues. But, in general, the fewer weapons around the better.

People certainly have the right to own guns, and to keep them in their homes if they choose. Limiting those rights in some public places is a reasonable approach.

Shelton has a chance to pass a common-sense local law that doesn’t go too far. It may be too much for gun-rights advocates and too little for gun-control supporters, which likely means it’s probably the right thing to do.