CEDAR GROVE, NJ – An ordinance restricting the sale of weapons from Cedar Grove homes was scheduled to be voted on at Monday’s Township Council Meeting, but instead the council opted to remove the ordinance from consideration permanently.
The proposed ordinance was first introduced on first reading at the Jan. 11 council meeting. At that meeting, Mayor Joe Chiusolo said the ordinance would not prohibit gun shops from operating in the township as long as they were operating legally and carefully monitored. Instead the ordinance was designed to ban the operation of home-based businesses, which can impact the quality of life of a neighborhood due to the shipping activity that is necessary, he said.
Former Councilman Bob O’Toole spoke up at the Jan. 11 meeting against the ordinance, stating it was redundant and goes against the second amendment of the Constitution. O’Toole said he believed the ordinance could open up the township to legal challenges down the road.
In a phone interview, Councilman Harry Kumburis said that he had opposed the ordinance from the beginning because he also felt it was redundant and could open the township up to legal action. Kumburis said that if the goal of the ordinance was to ban all home-based businesses in Cedar Grove than he felt the weapons part should be removed, which would limit the controversy.
“I believe local government should not be involved in any form of gun control and that it should be left to the state and federal government,” Kumburis said.
Chiusolo stated the proposed ordinance was eliminated because the issue had been blown out of proportion to the point that he felt he had been disrespected by Kumburis, who allegedly went to a local gun range and made disparaging remarks about Chiusolo and his business, Turn Out Uniforms, Inc., with regard to the ordinance.
“The purpose of the ordinance wasn’t to deny anybody their second amendment rights. As a matter of fact, in the type of business I’m in I deal with people who carry weapons each and every day – legal weapons – and I respect each and every one of them,” Chiusolo stated. “The issue was to protect people and to look toward making sure that the sale of weapons was done not only in a legal way, but in a safe way, not in someone’s home.”
Chiusolo related a story from his youth in Jersey City when a local jeweler was doing business out of his home. Word got out eventually and the jeweler was robbed, he said.
“In our town, I was looking more at safety and the issue got blown out of proportion to the point where as a volunteer on the council I was totally disrespected by a fellow member of the council who decided to go to a range and bastardize my name as a member of the council, as well as my business,” Chiusolo said.
With regard to visiting the gun range, Kumburis said he did visit Guns for Hire in Woodland Park to find out how they felt about the proposed ordinance. While there, he said an employee did ask who the mayor was in Cedar Grove and recognized Chisuolo’s name because of his business. Kumburis said he did not threaten Chisuolo’s business in any way.
The mayor said he wanted to make the public aware of the incident because it was not the way the town council typically operated. He noted that in his 18 years of service, he’d had disagreements with other council members and had members of the public disagree with him but those disagreements had always been dealt with respectfully.
“I can tell you I put my heart and soul into representing the township of Cedar Grove and I’m not going to allow anyone to go after my family or my business. And more importantly I’m not going to allow it to be done to anyone that’s sitting up here, including you,” he continued, addressing Kumburis. “Because that’s not what we’re about, and once you have breached that you have lost my respect and more importantly you have shown the people of Cedar Grove deep disrespect because we are here to serve the people not to be self serving.”
Kumburis stated he chose not to respond Chisuolo’s statements during the meeting because he didn’t feel it was the proper forum. “We prevailed as the ordinance was removed. I just wish it had been handled in a different way,” Kumburis said.
Cedar Grove Resident and New Jersey State Trooper Bill Fearon, who also works at Guns For Hire, spoke at the meeting in support of Chiusolo. “I am all for him and his business. They support the U.S., they support the police. He’s very well respected in the field,” Fearon said.