By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Windsor Council members are divided on whether to take up the volatile topic of gun control, a national issue over which they have little say.
The rift that developed at last week’s council meeting was prompted by gun control advocates who are attempting to get Sonoma County and its nine cities to support reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban.
The Sonoma County Chapter of the California Brady campaign is asking local elected officials to adopt resolutions supporting the law proposed by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca.
She is seeking to renew and broaden the 1994 ban she authored on the sale of military-style weapons and large capacity bullet magazines that expired 10 years later.
Windsor Councilman Steve Allen said taking up national issues is not appropriate for the council and can eat up valuable staff time.
“Where do we draw the line?” Allen said. “Do we talk about NSA spying, do we talk about the federal budget, do we talk about Morsi being thrown out of Egypt and was that a coup?”
But Councilwoman Debora Fudge, who favors the council drafting a letter to the California Congressional delegation asking them to support Feinstein’s legislation, responded: “there are people who feel it’s a local issue, especially with the recent events of San Francisco last week.”
She was making reference to the man who was arrested for killing two employees at a jewelry store, allegedly because he believed he was shortchanged for jewelry he recently purchased.
He was armed with a .38 caliber revolver and had an AK-47 assault rifle and extended ammunition clip in his vehicle.
Fudge said she received calls from people asking why the assault weapons ban wasn’t on Windsor’s agenda.
The Cloverdale City Council is set to vote on the issue at its Wednesday meeting. Interim City Manager Paul Cayler is recommending the council approve the resolution.
Cayler said it “appears to be a moderate course of action” on the issue of gun control, a reasonable compromise between the right to bear arms, and “the reality of the mayhem and violence that is caused by assault weapons in mass shootings.”
In January, following the fatal shootings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a number of city councils, including in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma, passed resolutions seeking reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban.
In Santa Rosa, a handful of speakers condemned the council’s action, some claiming it was part of a conspiracy to deprive people of their constitutional rights. One resident praised the council.
In Petaluma, three people urged the council not to bring the city into Second Amendment debates. No one spoke in favor of the resolution.
Petaluma Councilman Mike Harris, the sole Republican on the seven-member council, was the only one to vote against it.
He didn’t address the issue of gun owners’ rights or gun control, but instead argued the council shouldn’t delve into national debates.
“It is a slippery slope if we keep taking on federal issues,” he said. “What is next, are we going to start discussing the atrocities in Darfur, or take a position on freeing Leonard Peltier, or drone usage in Petaluma?”
Windsor Mayor Robin Goble struck a similar theme this week, saying she will abstain from voting on the issue. “I think we have absolutely no business weighing in on federal matters,” she said.
Councilmembers Fudge and Sam Salmon had requested the matter be placed on the agenda. But Mayor Goble declined, saying the request should be made publicly first before it makes it onto the agenda for a vote.
“I want to hear who the group is and what the reasoning is,” Goble said. “I want to hear that daylighted in public.”
Council members agreed to discuss at a future meeting the general procedure for placing matters on the agenda.
(You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)