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Newton City Council passes ban on firing pellet guns, air rifles

An ordinance to ban firing pellet guns and air rifles in Newton passed with a unanimous vote at a City Council meeting earlier this month.

The measure already had the full support of the council’s Public Safety and Transportation Committee, which previously held a meeting where residents in West Newton discussed a neighbor who shot an air rifle for target practice in his backyard.

The amendment to Newton’s air rifle laws makes each offense for discharging an air rifle punishable by $300. According to Newton police, that is the maximum allowed fine.

Though passed on April 4, the law still has a period of 20 days when any individual can appeal before it goes into effect, according to the city clerk’s office.

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Air rifles, air pistols, and BB guns are not regulated as typical firearms in Massachusetts. In most situations, individuals must be older than 18 and cannot shoot in areas of public access, according to state law.

In a letter to city councilors, the Newton Gun Violence Prevention Collaborative said air rifles are harmful, potentially lethal, and should be policed as such.

“We have the privilege of living in a city that is united in its desire to make Newton safer from gun violence,” read the letter. “There is no need to wait for a tragedy before taking action.”

There was no discussion among lawmakers at the council meeting before the amendment passed unanimously.

City Councilor Andrea Kelley said in an interview before the ordinance was passed that she supported the change in law to ensure the safety of her district.

“There are many cases where public safety does take dominance over personal rights or property rights. That is one of those times when public welfare takes preference,” Kelley said. “People who do want to do this type of shooting, or firearm shooting, just need to do it somewhere other than within the city limits,” Kelley said.

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Samuele Petruccelli can be reached at newtonreport@globe.com.