NEWBURYPORT — U.S. Rep John Tierney, D-Salem, joined city officials and advocacy groups at Newburyport City Hall Saturday in calling for more discussion on ways to stop handgun violence, while also sharing plans for new legislation designed to prevent accidental gun deaths.
Also attending the morning forum were Mayor Donna Holaday, City Marshal Thomas Howard and John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence.
“We would love this to be a nonpartisan issue, but it is not,” Tierney said. “The Supreme Court was clear that you have a right to own and possess (firearms). But it said that it wasn’t unlimited. And that the concerns for the safety of the community and children and schools, things like that, was a legitimate factor on that.
“We hope to speak here in the context of, while we support people’s constitutional right to own and possess, what reasonable limitations, if any, should we put on them to make sure that our children are safe and that our schools and neighborhoods are safe?” he asked.
As a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a 900-member coalition of mayors across the country created to combat gun violence, Holaday thanked Tierney for addressing an issue that is near and dear to her heart. She cited examples seen in the city, such as the 2004 suicide of a 15-year-old Newburyport High School sophomore who shot himself on the school steps, and Friday’s lockdown at Pentucket High School, due to what turned out to be a replica handgun found on a student.
“Violence has touched all of us,” Holaday said. “We may not have staggering amounts of gun violence in a lot of our cities, but even one violent act is one too many.
“We are not talking about taking away constitutional rights for law-abiding gun owners,” the mayor said. “What we are talking about is finding a solution, and we need gun owners at the table, having a dialogue with us. Is it wrong to require all felons and dangerously mentally ill persons who have been involuntarily committed to have to utilize a database to track these individuals?”