The City Council voted last week against supporting legislation to restrict access to semiautomatic assault weapons. However, it unanimously approved a resolution urging the state Legislature to require a waiting period for the sale of such weapons. The resolution also recommends longer prison terms for those who use the guns in crimes.
The resolution, passed by the council at its meeting Monday night, also called on the Legislature to permit local law enforcement agencies to issue officers weapons comparable to those used by gangs.
“Although it could have been stronger, at least we sent a message,” said Mayor Donna Smith. “We wanted to call for some accountability for the people who get ahold of these weapons and use them.”
Last month, the council voted 3 to 2 against a motion by Smith to support legislative efforts to ban semiautomatic assault weapons. The council majority voiced concern that outright prohibition of the weapons would violate citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms.
The resolution that was passed this week seeks at least a 15-day waiting period for purchasers of the weapons to enable police to check a buyer’s background. The council also demanded legislation that would add five years to the sentences of those who use semiautomatic assault weapons in the commission of crimes.
Councilman Mark Nymeyer, who opposed the motion for a ban on the weapons, hailed the council’s actions.
“We didn’t take weapons away from responsible gun-owners,” he said. “We addressed the problem of irresponsible people who use these weapons.”