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Weston Eyes Assault Weapon Ban, School Safety

At the final Board of Selectmen meeting of 2012, the Board of Selectmen and community discussed potential local weapons restrictions as well as how best to increase school safety.

The Weston Board of Selectmen is considering adopting new town ordinances pertaining to assault weapons.

Just six days after the tragic events that transpired in Newtown, the selectmen met for the last time in 2012 on Dec. 20 and at Selectman Dennis Tracey’s request, began a dialogue about steps the town could take to ensure safety in Weston, something Tracey called a “very, very difficult and complicated question."

Tracey, a lawyer, said he reviewed federal and state law pertaining to firearms.

“It’s quite clear to me there are significant gaps in our regulation of firearms which really could cause a serious risk to our population and to our children,” he said. “I have begun the discussion about several local ordinances which would help close some of the loopholes that have caused these terrible tragedies.”

Tracey said the town could consider passing ordinances that would ban assault weapons, make sure guns are properly stored and close “very significant loopholes in the process for permitting weapons.”

“I think we in Weston have the right to be protected from weapons that belong on a military battlefield, not within close range of our children or disturbed persons,” Tracey said.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she and fellow Selectman David Muller agree with Tracey’s sentiments.

“We believe 100 percent in everything you’re trying to accomplish,” she said.

Weinstein wondered though, for example, that if police thought a gun owner might not be storing his weapons properly, would they have the right to go in that residence to check. She said the selectmen need to pass “something that is enforceable and conveys the message we’re trying to get across in Weston.”

School safety

A concerned Weston father suggested the selectmen look to add non-weapon items to these potential ordinances, such as body armor and infared and night vision technologies.

“I encourage everyone to come forward with their ideas,” Weinstein said.

The man suggested putting armed police officers in all four of Weston’s schools. Police Chief John Troxell said he’s proposed adding more police officers, including a student resource officer and an officer who would patrol School Road each day school is in session.

Troxell said part of his budget proposal for 2013-2014 includes adding three police officers to Weston’s force, two of whom would be assigned to the schools. The price tag: $194,000, he said. Troxell said the Board of Education proposed adding four unarmed security guards—one for each school—at a cost of $200,000.

Troxell said he hoped people would turn out at meetings to support his proposal.

Weinstein said all three selectmen currently have children in Weston’s schools and want to keep them safe, but wanted to make sure youngsters could play as kids have done.

“I also want our kids to be kids,” she said. “The last thing I want is for police to say its dangerous for your kids to be outside because an active shooter might come and shoot them when they’re on the playground or on the school bus.”

“You can only do so much to protect them,” she said. “At the end of the day, if someone wants to come into the high school and God forbid shoot one of my sons, it could happen.”

Police Commissioner Jess DiPasquale said it appeared the community would support increased school safety.

“These schools are so good. We’re so recognized in Weston for the best schools from an educational standpoint,” he said. “I would love to see that recognition as we go on to be the safest schools in Connecticut and perhaps the nation and I think we have the ability to do that.”

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