Madison Borough Council Debates Assault Weapons Legislation

Madison Patrolman Kevin Boone demonstrating how assault weapons are used Credits: Jason Cohen
Volunteer Firefighter Colin Dunne being sworn in Credits: Jason Cohen
Representatives from the Madison Shade Trees Inc. doanting money to the borough Credits: Jason Cohen
Resident Dr. Joseph Fennelly speaking out against guns Credits: Jason Cohen
Betsy Uhlman, former Chair of Sustainable Madison making a presentation on the Green Forum Credits: Jason Cohen

MADISON, NJ - On Monday, Jan. 14, the Madison Borough Council discussed assault weapons legislation and passed a resolution encouraging the federal government to adopt New Jersey gun laws as their own. Own Wednesday, a group of mayors from four counties in the state, are going to Washington, D.C to try to persuade Congress to take action.

In the wake of the recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, many lawmakers and residents want stricter gun laws, while others believe mental health needs to be examined.

Councilman Robert Catalanello, who is a member of the National Rifle Association, and Mayor Bob Conley, who is a member of the Brady Campaign against Gun Violence, both agreed that gun violence needs to stop. Catalanello said he was shocked at the recent shootings, but more surprised at how the guns in the Newtown home weren’t secured and locked in a safe place as they are required to be according the law.

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In New Jersey, in order to buy firearms legally people must undergo a thorough background check and obtain a firearm identification card, but people quite often purchase weapons in Pennsylvania and bring them back to New Jersey. While New Jersey has extremely tough gun laws, surrounding states make it much too easy for people to access weapons.

At the meeting, Madison Patrolman Kevin Boone, who has been on the job for 29 years, gave a short presentation on how assault rifles are used. Boone had an AR15 and an M16, the automatic weapons that the killers in Aurora and Newtown used. He said he has never had to fire one, but the officers always carry them.

“I just had this sickening feeling as you look at those weapons even in the hands of trusted uniformed police,” Conley said. “You can imagine the horror of seeing that in a public place.”

Dr. Joseph Fennelly said gun laws need to change and society has become far too violent and dangerous. He also said mental health is an issue that should not be overlooked.

“I think we as a society have failed,” Fennelly said. “I’m frustrated that we think there’s little that one can do to fight the powerful NRA.”

In other business, Volunteer firefighter Colin Dunne was sworn in by the mayor and Conley announced the resignation of Andrea Waresk after serving six years on the recreation advisory committee. Also, the Friends of Madison Shade Trees Inc. presented the borough with a check for $10,000 to help with trees lost during Hurricane Sandy.

Former Chair of Sustainable Madison, Betsy Uhlman, gave a presentation on the Green Forum, which is taking place on Jan. 24 at Drew University. All of the green committees in Madison are coming together for a roundtable discussion about green space throughout the borough.

 “This is an opportunity to be heard by the green committees,” Uhlman said. “We’re really inviting residents and students to be part of a conversation.”

On Feb. 2, at 9 .a. m. Madison will hold its first annual Borough Leadership meeting.

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