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Windsor council won’t back assault weapons ban

By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Gun-control advocates failed this week to convince the Windsor Town Council to support a federal ban on assault weapons when a majority of council members abstained from voting on the matter.

Windsor so far is the only municipality in Sonoma County to break ranks on the issue. Seven cities have endorsed a ban while Rohnert Park is yet to take up the issue.

jb0720_green_walk.jpgGun control advocates left the Windsor council chamber Wednesday night accusing the abstaining council members of “cowardice” and having “no guts.”

“Their constituents have a right to know where they stand on this,” Susan Moore, president of the Sonoma County Brady Campaign said Thursday. “This to me is very cowardly.”

Two council members favored a resolution endorsing a national ban on the sale of military-style weapons and large-capacity bullet magazines, but without enough votes for council action, it died.

A majority of council members essentially said it’s not appropriate to be taking up a national issue that can divert staff time and result in a symbolic gesture.

“This job is for community and local issues — water, sewer, garbage, roads, infrastructure, parks, seniors,” said Councilman Bruce Okrepkie, who abstained from voting along with council members Steve Allen and Robin Goble.

Only council members Debora Fudge and Sam Salmon voted in favor of backing the reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban proposed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca.

The two council members also expressed support for legislation proposed by Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to extend background checks to all gun sales, including guns sold at shows and through the Internet.

Fudge, who proposed the council vote on the issue, said “local government can be the voice of the people … especially when sending messages up to the state and federal government.”

“This is the place where people can do that. That’s why I think it’s very appropriate,” said Fudge.

“This goes to the protection of the residents in the future and law enforcement officers,” Salmon said.

The three council members did not explain why they chose to abstain and not simply vote no, Moore said, adding that an abstention usually reflects a conflict of interest.

But last month Mayor Goble said she would abstain because “I think we have absolutely no business weighing in on federal matters.”

“I don’t know how the constituents of Windsor feel about these things because I don’t engage with them on those,” she said.

In a more wide ranging discussion later Wednesday night on how controversial topics such as gun control should be placed on the agenda, Allen said it’s a “waste of time,” and “seems to me to be an abuse of Windsor taxpayer money.”

The council heard from half dozen speakers on the topic of gun control, most of whom urged the council to take a stand in favor of an assault weapons ban. Two speakers were opposed, including Windsor resident Wayne Gifford who cited the Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Councilman Okrepkie seemed especially conflicted prior to abstaining, saying he was unhappy that it was on the agenda.

In impassioned comments, he said he was torn because of the ”horrific, hideous … sick” act that led to the fatal shootings last December of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

He spoke of violence on television, video games and other media and said “the real problem is mental health” and sick delusional people with access to firearms.

Okrepkie said gun control advocates were asking Feinstein to amend the Constitution and the right to bear arms.

But Moore disagreed.

“It’s to get legislation for sensible gun laws. We’re certainly not encroaching on the Second Amendment,” she said. “We don’t need our citizens armed with military weapons.”

(You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.)





5 Responses to “Windsor council won’t back assault weapons ban”

  1. Big Fish says:

    Kudos to the Windsor City Council for offering a glimmering sense of hope and sensibility in understanding and supporting our constitution. Ms. Moore and Ms. Fudge would better serve the community saving kitty cats as they just don’t quite comprehend what our second amendments are nor do they know when to properly describe an “assault” and “military” weapon.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  2. Follower says:

    I often wonder with all the awful things we see people doing to other people, WITH AND WITHOUT guns… how anyone could believe that eliminating guns is going to make people stop doing awful things to other people.

    I do understand the theory that a lack of guns will reduce the amount of awful things people do to other people but I also understand that if we just lock everyone up in solitary confinement we will no longer see anyone doing any awful things to anyone.

    And I also understand that many people will refrain from doing awful things to other people if they fear that the other person may do awful things to them first!

    I accept the fact that my neighbor might shoot me with the comfort of knowing that my neighbor understands that I will be shooting back.

    This is the basis of my position on “gun control”.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  3. Rick says:

    Laws are only followed by law abiding citizens. Additional laws, to the 20,000 current laws, will only affect law abiding citizens. There is no shortage of illegal guns, mentally ill or criminals. The only reason to pass new laws or bans is to affect law abiding citizens. Some people fear water, or fire, or rain, or guns, or cars. Their fear defines their reasoning. Laws that only affect law abiding citizens do nothing.

    Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear from law abiding citizens with guns. What does it matter what’s in my gun safe? Since criminals and the mentally ill don’t follow laws, what do you really fear? What is your TRUE motivation for new laws and bans? In 2011 70,000 people tried to purchase firearms when it was illegal for them to possess them. The current background check system stopped them. The Attorney General saw fit to prosecute 77 of those 70,000. What is the real problem?

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  4. Robert says:

    California already has a ban AND background checks on ALL gun sales. Sounde like the Windsor council is mostly educated.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  5. James Bennett says:

    “Gun control advocates failed to convince the Healdsburg Council to overturn the Constitution”.

    Goble is right; “they have no business weighing in on Federal matters”.

    Sounds like the matter might carry too much…

    heat.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

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