Friday, June 17, 2016

Why The Fight On Guns Must Go On

GOUVEIA: Is it time to give up on gun control? No!

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Posted: Friday, June 17, 2016 12:15 am
After Orlando, I want to write yet another column on the need for gun control. I want to express for the umpteenth time my rage, my anger, my sorrow and my desire for long-overdue changes in the attitude toward guns in this country.
Then I stop and ask myself — why? This love affair America has with guns is not going to change. The number of mass shootings is only going to get worse, largely because across the country it is much too easy to purchase weapons that should only be used during times of war.
Our federal government is comprised of those concerned primarily with their own political futures. America today is about winning. Just ask the Republican nominee for president.
“We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning,” Donald Trump has told us. “Believe me, I agree, you’ll never get bored with winning. We never get bored. We are going to turn this country around.”
Yeah — winning. That’s what we are all about today.
The NRA is winning. The gun lobby is winning. The politicians who receive money and influence from those entities are winning. They are winning big, in both the legislative arena and the realm of public opinion. They are literally beating the snot out of their “competition.”
They are why we can’t pass any kind of serious or meaningful restrictions on guns. They are why it’s impossible to even bring any type of gun legislation to the floor of either the House or Senate for a vote. They only care about winning, and the only way they continue to win is if Americans continue to have easy access to deadly weapons.
Because — and make no mistake about this — a majority of our citizens believe that is important. More important than almost anything else. They measure their freedom largely by how big a weapon they can own, how much ammunition they can shoot and how much damage they can do when they strike their target.
It’s how they win.
Oh sure, they’ll tell you it’s about freedom. It’s about liberty, revolution and true citizenship. It’s about that most sacred part of the Constitution — the 2nd Amendment. You know, the one written when the most dangerous weapon in the world was a cannon.
The presumptive Republican nominee for president tells anyone who listens that our problem is we need more guns. We should allow them to be carried into movie theaters. Into grocery stores. Into nightclubs, elementary schools and even churches. More guns will make us safer, will make America great again.
So, why should I bother? How can I even begin to bring about change? Though there are plenty of people who believe in things like national databases, detailed background checks, uniform national gun laws, we are clearly and without a doubt outnumbered. We can’t even raise the topic to the level of debate, never mind legislative or regulatory action. So why?
Then, I remember.
I look at the faces of my five grandchildren. The beautiful, innocent faces. The smiles of those as yet untouched by the violent, vindictive mood that has gripped their homeland. The eyes that shine with trust, with hope, with love.
They are why. And they are all the reason I need.
I tremble at the thought of my grandchildren growing up in a land that values guns so disproportionately. Where massive gun violence is met with nothing but excuses about what we cannot do. Where the amendment to the Constitution meant to protect us is consistently used to kill us.
Our leaders hold moments of silence after each mass shooting, then remain silent when they should be proposing new gun regulations. Their cowardice is appalling, even when they attempt to wrap it in the cloth of patriotism and freedom.
After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Orlando — we must stop using the 2nd Amendment as an excuse.
We must not sit passively by and leave our children a world where Donald Trump trades guns for power. We must raise our voices. We must fight the fight.
We owe them that. We all owe our children and grandchildren that. We must care more about people than guns.
That way, everyone wins.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Foxboro Board Misfires On Guns N' Roses

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on June 10, 2016

Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:00 pm
The Foxboro Board of Selectmen either needs to recognize it has a major entertainment venue within its borders, or tell the Kraft Group it has to limit activities at the stadium complex to sporting events and daytime music.
Until they do, they will continue to look petty, foolish and provincial - as they did last week in refusing a request for the musical group Guns N' Roses to play 25 minutes over the 11:15 p.m. curfew during their Gillette Stadium concerts next month.
Stadium representatives sought an extension to 11:40 p.m. on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the venerable hard rock band. Most fans of the group - around since 1985 - might struggle to stay up that late, but will get home a little earlier now because Foxboro's town leaders are watching out for them.
Well, it is actually the neighbors on North Street and the surrounding area that selectmen purport to be defending here. Although they have in the past extended the curfew for other musical events (such as Taylor Swift), those were on weekends. And apparently selectmen believe people who live in the general vicinity of Gillette Stadium can tolerate 25 extra minutes - but only on weekends.
Newly elected Selectman Mark Elfman joined his fellow board members in the unanimous decision, stating "We've got neighbors, friends and townspeople who have to get up and go to work the next day."
Selectmen are certainly right to want to make sure neighbors are protected as much as possible during stadium events.
That must be why they allow North Street to be turned into a virtual private way for high-end ticket holders during games and concerts. And it must also be why they supported controversial townwide parking bans that are really only aimed at preventing property owners around the stadium from cashing in and parking cars during events.
No doubt, some neighbors appreciate the actions of the board. That 25 minutes might well be important to them, given the noise and traffic they endure on a regular basis. And there are probably those in town cheering selectmen for standing up to stadium officials and putting some teeth in their previously flexible curfew.
Neighboring Mansfield imposes an 11 p.m. curfew on the Xfinity Center, a much smaller venue that also features big-name musical acts. They also have instituted a system of fines for those acts that run late.
But it is hard to see this Foxboro decision as anything but an overreaction to a simple request. Having a rock band performing until 11:40 p.m. on a midsummer night, in an area full of bars and clubs open until 1 a.m. or later, is hardly a major deal to a neighborhood that has had a stadium in its midst for more than 40 years.
Maybe selectmen want to appear firm in their licensing procedures. One local resident told the board before their decision that "a curfew should mean something."
Is that really the big issue here? Do selectmen or the town somehow lose credibility in the eyes of the public if they don't rigorously and firmly stand by an 11:15 p.m. curfew? Or is it more important to work with officials on concerts that annually put hundreds of thousands of dollars or more into the town coffers?
It should be pointed out there are Patriots games that routinely go past 11:15 p.m. during the football season. And they are held on Sunday nights, Monday nights, and sometimes even Thursday nights.
Now granted, they do not come with constant loud music being continuously blasted for long periods of time. But they do feature 68,000 screaming fans, just as much traffic and a much younger and often rowdier crowd.
Bringing big-time entertainment and the dollars that accompany it into Foxboro is big business. While Foxboro is chock full of small town charm, it has to have a flexible attitude when it comes to situations involving matters relating to the Kraft Group and the world-class events they host in town. Not to mention the economic benefits these events bring with them.
Now, that does not include granting every request they make. But 25 minutes on two nights in July is not where the board should be flexing its licensing muscles.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.