CONSTANTINE, Mich.—Some gun owners in St. Joseph County are all fired up after learning that one council member has asked for a discussion on the subject of proliferation of assault weapons and a possible ban on them in their village. The topic is on the council agenda on January 18th, but people showed up Monday night at the council meeting to make their opinions known during public comment.
About a dozen people showed up to speak. A lot of them had more questions about why this is coming up in their small village, which has minimal assault weapon issues. Gun owners were angered that their 2nd amendment rights are being taken away. However, the council was unable to answer any of their questions, or discuss their opinions. The president of the council – Patricia Weiss -who brought the topic up in mid-December is on vacation, leaving the rest of the council unsure about the details of her agenda.
Constantine, Michigan is a small village: only 1.77 square miles in size and home to about 2,000 people. However, it’s getting a lot of big talk after their council president brought up the controversial topic in mid-December hoping to make a bold statement to Michigan’s lawmakers.
“The village president, who isn’t here tonight because she is on vacation, and won’t be here until the next meeting; she asked that I distribute some literature to the council about the proliferation of assault weapons,” said Marc Honeysett, the city manager and police chief of Constantine.
Now many neighbors – as well as other council members – said they don’t know why a small village like Constantine is taking on such a large topic.
“She [the council president] asked that they read it and be prepared to discuss it including and up to imposing a ban on assault weapons in the village,” said Honeysett.
People are catching wind of the council president’s big idea, and made sure to voice their opinions in public comment at the council meeting Monday night.
Mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence for Americans in 2015: according to the Washington Post, there were nearly 300 incidents where four or more people were hurt or killed in gunfire. Keith Ott, Constantine resident and a gun owner, reads these numbers as a reason to be armed.
“I think it’s very important that this is a sign of the times. It’s on the news; people need to be aware of their surroundings, protect themselves, educate themselves, and practice and shoot and shoot more often,” Ott said. “You never know when you will need to protect your family or yourself.”
One important aspect of the upcoming discussion will be on what exactly qualifies as an assault weapon; a question that isn’t easy to answer, according to Constantine police chief Honeysett.
“There actually is not [a] single answer and it depends where you go to find that answer. Some people think it’s an automatic weapon and that’s not the case,” Honeysett said.
This discussion is hot off the heels after President Obama announced that he plans to make an executive order that would require background checks for guns purchased from dealers online and at gun shows.
“I think this ban will be, well, I don’t think it will ever happen, but I am here to make sure people know it is an infringement on our constitutional right to defend your family and yourself,” Keith Ott said.
The discussion is expected to continue January 18th upon Weiss’ return from vacation. Meetings are open to those who live in and outside of the village who wish to voice their opinions.