Election May 4, 2021

Friends,

Town Election is Tuesday, 5/4/21.  Westford Pro 2A has been hard at work screening relevant candidates on their Second Amendment positions. Below is the summary.  Below that is the words of the candidates as they responded to us.

Select Board
JOHN H. CUNNINGHAM- A
ERIC R. BARBER-MINGO – Incomplete, did not respond

School Committee
MEGHAN F. O’CONNELL – A
Mingquan Zheng – B
Avery Adam – C
Chris Sanders – C
KATHRYN CLEAR – Incomplete, did not respond
STEVEN D. WILKINS – Incomplete, did not respond

Planning Board
Katherine Hollister – B

Housing Authority
Carol Engel – Incomplete, did not respond

Board of Health
Joanne Belanger – Incomplete, did not respond

Grade A – The candidate fully supports the Second Amendment in word, deed, and/or takes a pro-active approach to demonstrating this.
Grade B – The candidate states that they fully support the second amendment, but no other evidence is available to show how they might act.
Grade C – The candidate has made remarks that Westford Pro 2A considers less than fully supportive of the Second Amendment, but we are unaware of any actions by the candidate to undermine the Second Amendment.
Grade F – The candidate has made actions to limit the Second Amendment rights of people.

Grade I – Incomplete or unavailable, or he candidate did NOT respond to questions, or could not be reached.

Below are summaries from the Cadidates who responded:

Select Board
We asked each person running for a seat on the Select Board two questions:
1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected?
2. Do you believe that individual towns may place additional burdens on law-abiding firearms owners in addition to Federal and State Law?

John Cunningham, Select Board – A
John is the only candidate who personally reached out to Westford Pro 2A. We talked via telephone, and he addressed the Westford Sportsmen’s Club. John told us he believes the Second Amendment is a right of the individual. He himself holds an LTC. John told us in no uncertain terms, that towns have no business trying to pass firearms laws.  He also stated that shooting ranges and sportsmen’s clubs should not be targeted by neighbors for noise complaints, especially if the club pre-dates the neighbors.

School Committee
We asked each person running for a seat on the School Committee three questions:
1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected?
2. Do you believe in “age appropriate” firearms safety training (such as Eddie Eagle for young children and Home Firearms Safety for older students)?
3. Would you support a scholastic shooting team (such as trap, rifle, or pistol) in Westford Academy?

MEGHAN F. O’CONNELL – A
1.Yes, I fully support the 2nd Amendment as an individual right. I myself am one of the almost 1,700 LTC holders in Westford. I enjoy firearms in target shooting. I support firearms for use in hunting. I also support an individual right to own and carry firearms for protection, especially where I am a member of a minority group that has been much more likely to be assaulted or murdered.

2. Yes, I do believe in age appropriate firearms safety training. I teach my children the basic rules of firearms safety. Firearms are simply a tool, albeit a dangerous tool if not respected or used properly.

3. Yes, I would.

Mingquan Zheng – B
1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution
confers an individual right to be respected?

When I took an oath to become a citizen of the United States, I pledged to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America”,
and that is what I am going to do: to support the US Constitution and its amendments in entirety.

2. Do you believe in “age appropriate” firearms safety training (such as
Eddie Eagle for young children and Home Firearms Safety for older students)?

I do understand that keeping children away from firearms reduces risks of firearm related accidents. However firearm accidents do happen to young kids, and whenever such an accident happens it is heartbroken for the affected families. Firearm safety training, if proven effective, could be a good tool to prepare kids in the rare cases of encountering firearms alone.

3. Would you support a scholastic shooting team (such as trap, rifle, or
pistol) in Westford Academy?

Shooting is an Olympic Sports and obviously sports start with assembling a team with coaching, training, and competing, etc. It is really up to the staff and students at Westford Academy to see if there is enough interest to assemble such a team.

Avery Adam – C
As School Committee members, we are charged with three tasks; supervision of the Superintendent, writing/updating school policy and overseeing the budget for the school district. I will always do what I feel is in the best interests of the students.

I respect the constitution as the basis for our democracy but I am not a constitutional law expert. As I read it, the 2nd Amendment was written in 1791 and protects the right of citizens to “bear arms”.

I do not believe that formal firearms training is an issue for the schools. There are many groups, clubs and agencies that offer these programs. As a member of 4H both my children have had riflery as an activity at summer camp in addition to archery and outdoor living skills.

Westford Academy could consider shooting sports should a group bring it forward. To start a new club, there must be student interest in addition to faculty sponsor/advisor. There are Olympic Shooting sports and individuals interested in pursuing them should be given that opportunity with the appropriate supervision.

Chris Sanders – C
Thank you for the questions!

1. Ultimately, what I believe about the 2nd Amendment matters way less than what the Framers of the Constitution intended and how modern courts interpret that. That said, it seems to me that the Framers believed that an armed citizenry, in the form of individual gun owners who collectively constituted the state militias, were an important part of preventing a tyrannical federal government. Of course, when you look at the types of weapons available now—both to individuals and to the federal government—you have to wonder what the Framers would think, and if they could choose to use the same language that they did in the 2nd Amendment.

In general, however, I tend to err on the side of more freedom, entrusting individuals to be responsible with those freedoms. But I also believe that we, as a nation, can continue to have a discussion about our right to bear arms, and where it might interfere with our fellow citizens’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I am in favor of a number of sensible checks (e.g. background checks, waiting periods, red flag laws) that seek to balance those rights.

2. I am not familiar with the Home Firearms Safety program, and as I’ve stated in my response in previous years, I would not be inclined to support the Eddie Eagle program, given that the peer-reviewed research that shows that it is not effective at teaching children to put gun safety skills to work when actually encountering a firearm.

That said I’m a huge advocate for safety training for anyone who expects to be handling firearms. I grew up in a gun-owning home in rural Indiana, and from a young age, I loved going with my dad to shoot trap or go target shooting with my .22. And my dad was a stickler for safety; any minor transgression on my part was met with a firm dressing down. As a result, I respected the power and the danger of firearms.

We ask our young drivers to take classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction in order to get a driver’s license. Getting my pilot’s license required dozens and dozens of hours of studying and training. Likewise, I support quality firearms safety training for gun owners.

3. I would support a scholastic shooting team, as long as I was convinced that there were dedicated, trained coaches/sponsors and student safety was adequately addressed.

Planning Board
We asked people seeking a seat on the Planning Board two questions:
1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected?
2. Do you believe that Shooting Ranges, which have lawfully operated for decades, should be forced to shut down when new neighborhoods are built nearby?

Katherine Hollister – B

1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution confers an individual right to be respected?
The “right to be respected” is quite broad and goes beyond the Second Amendment. However, I do believe that USA citizens have the right to own and bear arms. I was taught to shoot when I was a child, and my husband used to hunt. We both had firearm permits until the law changed 25 or so years ago. I have relatives and neighbors who collect firearms and/or like to hunt, and I am happy for them when the hunt is successful.

2. Do you believe that Shooting Ranges, which have lawfully operated for decades, should be forced to shut down when new neighborhoods are built nearby?
I do not believe that existing shooting ranges should be forced to shut down when new neighborhoods are built nearby. As with existing airports, caveat emptor when one buys a home. We live about a mile from the Acton Gun Club and can hear gunshots when the wind is right. No problem for us. As long as the gun club continues to operate lawfully and implements measures and member awareness to protect neighbors from stray bullets, then it has the legal right to exist.