Efforts in Newton to ban gun stores from the city hit a roadblock Monday after the City Council turned down proposed zoning changes to prohibit firearms retailers. But the debate over the issue will continue as councilors are expected to take up a separate ban measure in the fall.
While there is widespread opposition among the city’s elected leaders to firearms businesses, debate has swirled around whether an outright ban would invite a court challenge under the Second Amendment.
Late last month, the council’s Zoning & Planning Committee recommended against Newton adopting the ban through the city’s zoning code. In a 21-3 vote Monday, a majority of councilors approved the committee’s recommendation to deny the ban.
The proposed ban of gun shops through zoning was initially docketed by a group of 11 councilors, including Emily Norton of Ward 2 and Leonard Gentile of Ward 4. Councilors Norton, Gentile, and R. Lisle Baker of Ward 7 cast the dissenting votes Monday.
Defeat of that measure will likely not be the last word on the issue. Last month, Norton and Gentile docketed a separate ban proposal that calls for adding amendments to the city’s ordinances that would prohibit the sale or manufacture of firearms within the city.The measure has been referred to the City Council’s Programs & Services and Finance committees.
During Monday’s City Council meeting, Gentile said the proposed gun store ban through the city ordinances was expected to be taken up in the fall.
Much of the debate focused on procedural matters, and took up the bulk of the roughly hour-and-a-half long session.
Some councilors who initially supported the zoning ban raised concerns about a court challenge, including Christopher Markiewicz, a Ward 4 councilor, and Rebecca Walker Grossman, a Ward 7 councilor-at-large. Both said the city should be able to continue exploring whether a gun store ban is feasible.
“I don’t see the harm in letting Programs & Services and this other item run through its course. Odds are, I still would not support a total ban,” Markiewicz said, but noted the issue was complex. “I think it’s worth hearing it.”
Walker Grossman said she wanted “to keep open the possibility that a time could come down the line when picking this discussion up could make better sense.”
Debate over a ban comes after the City Council in early June approved new local regulations that limit where firearms businesses could open, and requires them to receive a special permit from councilors to open. The rules apply to firearms dealers, gunsmiths, and gun ranges.
The issue surrounding gun shops arose after a local seller, Newton Firearms, looked to open at 709 Washington St. in Newtonville. The planned store sparked heated debate in the city, and the city’s new rules governing gun stores prohibit Newton Firearms from opening at that location, officials have said.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.