By Jim Hammond
Newton, Massachusetts is a wealthy suburb that is only nine miles from downtown Boston. The proximity to Bean Town has always been a boon for commuters who desire an easy drive to the city, and the pleasure of living in a peaceful community where the median income of its citizens is $127,000. However recent upticks in criminal behavior in Boston has created real concern for residents of Newton.
In 2019 there were 28 fatal shootings in Boston. In 2020 that number increased to 45. Also 2020 was the year that Covid-19 spread through the country resulting in questionable decisions made by the state that affected everyone.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that 367 prisoners were to be released back into society because of Covid. The logic behind this ruling was that with overcrowded prisons it was impossible for criminals to socially distance themselves from their fellow inmates.
What’s more, like so many other Soros-backed DA’s, Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins refused to prosecute those accused of crimes ranging from resisting arrest, shoplifting and possession with intent to distribute drugs.
There was another reason for heightened safety concerns among Massachusetts residents. Thousands of criminal convictions were overturned by the D.A.’s office because drug evidence seized by authorities was improperly handled by drug lab technicians. It isn’t known how many convicted criminals were released as a result.
In Newton over eleven hundred citizens have a class A license which grants them permission to carry a firearm for their protection. But, if it’s left up to the mayor and city council, they may not have a place to purchase a firearm in their own hometown.
Joseph Kammouj wants to open a shop on Washington Street in downtown Newton where a variety of shops are located including The Great Remedies marijuana dispensary. A sign was posted on a door at 709 Washington street, announcing the opening of Newton Firearms.
Almost Immediately Newton residents started a petition to prevent the business opening in their town. The petition, which has more than 6,000 signatures so far, declares the presence of a gun store in Newton “Would undermine our reputation as a welcoming and progressive city.”
Other residents started a petition entitled “Allow Gun Sales in Newton” which has, to date, gathered 563 signatures. The petition in favor of locating a gun shop in town states that “many Newton residents have been trying to suppress the rights of others to own and purchase firearms. As Americans we should never try to suppress the rights of others.””
Ruthanne Fuller, the mayor took up the opponents’ cause saying she is “ deeply concerned” about having a gun shop in Newton. The entire city council voted to issue a stop-work order against the gun shop when they discovered the business owner had not acquired a permit to renovate the space.
City hall officials are now trying to introduce a slate of zoning changes. Current zoning rules would regulate firearm dealers as falling into a general retail business that would allow such shops to operate in all of Newton’s business use zoning districts. The new zoning plan would ban gun stores from locating downtown and Newton city council president Susan Albright wants councilors to vote on the plan on May 17.
A local gun control activist was quoted in the Boston Globe saying she was worried that greater access to guns would lead to more deaths due to suicide, accidental shootings and homicides. Kammouj told The Globe, “This is just a business, like any other business,” but didn’t want to comment further on the kerfuffle. My attempts to contact him for comment haven’t been successful.
Newton Firearms’ website states the business will include gun sales, safety training, gunsmithing and repairs. It also states Kammouj’s intention to provide home security, and personal protection products as well.
Given the increase in crime in and around Boston — like most large urban areas — over the last year, residents of Newton have good reason to be concerned for their safety and that of their families. When police are defunded and criminals are released or never prosecuted at all, the message to the average citizen is clear: you are your own first responder. It’s up to you to protect yourself and those you love.
There’s no evidence that the presence of a local gun store increases the incidence of crime or suicides. The opposition of many Newton residence is nothing but hysterical hoplophobia in a state that’s becoming increasingly hostile to guns and firearm ownership.