Howell council members reinforce rights granted by Second Amendment

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HOWELL – Three members of the Howell Township Council have affirmed the municipality’s commitment to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

They also expressed their confidence in the Howell Police Department to administer and enforce existing laws.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution states that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell, Councilman Thomas Russo and Councilwoman Pamela Richmond voted “yes” on a motion to pass the resolution at the council’s Feb. 18 meeting.

Mayor Theresa Berger and Councilman John Bonevich abstained on the vote.

The council’s resolution states, among other assertions, that lawfully armed civilians have stopped active shooters and saved law enforcement officers who were under attack; that firearms are lawfully used for hunting and sport on a daily basis across the country; that abridging the rights of lawful gun owners does not reduce the criminal use of firearms by violent offenders; and that restricting a law-abiding citizen’s right to possess a firearm not only is a violation of their constitutional rights, but makes them vulnerable to being a victim of violence.

The resolution concludes by stating that the mayor and council affirm their dedication to the constitutional rights of citizens under the Second Amendment and oppose any efforts to abridge those rights; that Howell supports the rights of lawful gun owners to lawfully use firearms; and that Howell fully supports the ability of its police chief and police department to enforce and administer existing gun control laws in a rational manner that not only ensures the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of Howell, but also respects the rights of citizens under the Second Amendment.

In abstaining from the vote on the resolution, Bonevich said, “We already have a Second Amendment. We are the Howell Township Council, we are not Congress. We should be worried about adding resolutions for roads or parks.

“When we add things like this we are using our taxpayers’ dollars and asking (the township attorney) to spend hours, sometimes days, for something that is symbolic. I can’t change that, I am not a congressman, none of us are.

“Every time we do this we are wasting some dollars. I am just going to abstain, I am not going to vote on this stuff anymore,” the councilman said.

Berger said she believes in the Second Amendment and said her family has firearms, but the mayor said she agreed with Bonevich’s views on the matter.

In voting to pass the resolution, Russo said, “New Jersey’s increasingly strict gun laws have a direct impact on Howell residents and I think it is important now more than ever that Howell knows that members of their local government will advocate for and defend their Second Amendment rights.

“We as council members don’t have the power to directly change state or federal law, but change oftentimes starts from the ground up and I feel it is our duty as elected representatives of the people of Howell to let our law makers know through this common sense resolution that Howell supports the Second Amendment and responsible and lawful gun ownership, and opposes laws that cut against the Second Amendment,” Russo said.