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Gun control back on city council agenda

Gun violence and illegal gun ownership are once again coming back to council. Tonight, the Claremont City Council will consider whether or not it’s appropriate for the Claremont mayor to sign on to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. The coalition, composed of about 900 mayors throughout the country, supports keeping guns from those who choose to obtain them illegally. The discussion takes place on Tuesday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Having the council adopt a stance on gun violence was first brought up by a group of residents at a council meeting in early March. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, resident Meg Mathies and a handful of others called on then Mayor Larry Schroeder and the Claremont City Council to support efforts against gun violence, such as legislation like Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban, which was defeated 40-60 by Senate. Because the Brown Act prohibits the council from taking action on any item brought up during public comment, council members tabled it for formal adoption for a subsequent council meter.

Residents showed up to the council in droves on March 12 to weigh in, clearly split on the matter. Many came forward in support of the legislation—asserting that gun violence is an issue all municipalities should be concerned with. But just as many were vehemently against adopting any ordinance on the matter, instead urging the Claremont City Council to steer clear of wide-sweeping issues like immigration and global warming and to keep their focus on important local matters, like concerns with Wilderness Park safety and overcrowding and the city’s continued fiscal health. With council member Sam Pedroza absent that night, his fellow council members opted to table the vote.

By the March 26 city council meeting, Sen. Feinstein’s bill had fizzled, so city staff decided to drop the matter off the agenda, a decision that incited uproar from several residents, including Charles Bayer, who pointed out that only one portion of the bill collapsed. He strongly recommended the city still take a stance in supporting Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Lyons heeded Mr. Bayer’s plea, requesting that staff at least bring back discussion on the petition for the Mayors for Illegal Guns for consideration. At the same time, Councilmember Corey Calaycay advised City Manager Tony Ramos to bring back a discussion on policy and whether or not the council should be discussing and voting on issues like gun violence. That discussion has yet to take place.

In addition to considering Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the council will review an appeal to remove a Liquidambar tree from the 1600 block of Barnard Road. Homeowners are appealing the Community and Human Services Commision's May 8 decision to deny tree removal.

Council members will also listen to the city engineer’s 2013-2014- Landscape and Lighting District report, award a contract to PlayPower Lt Farmington, Inc., to perform nearly $65,000 in playground equipment improvements at Cahuilla Park and acknowledge students at Claremont High School for outstanding academic achievements.

The Claremont City Council meeting takes place tonight in the City Council Chamber, 225 W. Second St. beginning at 6 p.m. The full agenda can be viewed at www.ci.claremont.ca.us.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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