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PHOENIXVILLE — With gun control issues at the top of the country’s consciousness, two top officials in the borough weighed in on the nation’s discourse this week.
At the borough council meeting Tuesday night, June 8, Mayor Leo Scoda recounted in his monthly report hearing about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.
“I was beside myself,” Scoda said.
After the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Scoda said people can’t be silent about gun issues any longer.
“I think we have to start speaking up. We have to start getting guns under control,” he said. “This is not about your ability to have a gun. It’s about having guns that shoot 100 bullets a minute.”
Phoenixville Police Chief William Mossman said it must be asked whether ordinary citizens really need “the same exact weapon our soldiers are carrying in war.”
“Personally, I don’t see it,” Mossman said Thursday in a phone interview with The Mercury.
Mossman said he is by no means against people lawfully having firearms.
“My own, personal view, I really believe the citizens have a right to keep and bear their arms,” Mossman said. “I believe that. I can tell you my mother has a handgun. I would hate for my mother or wife to not be able to defend themselves.”
In addition to defense, Mossman said he believes people should have weapons to use in the act of hunting or target shooting.
“This country was born and raised on hunting,” he said. “There are people that are just target enthusiasts and they should have the weapons to do that.”
However, what kinds of weapons are used for that is where Mossman takes pause.
“The question that comes to mind is, ‘Should people have machine guns with 60-round magazines to target practice or to hunt?’” Mossman said. “My answers is (that) that’s not necessary. These are guns that are basically borrowed from the military that have a whole lot of ammunition to kill a whole lot.”
Scoda seems to fall on the same line as Mossman on weapons with large capacity magazines.
“These are made for nothing else except killing people and I think we have to start speaking out about this,” he said.
During his report at the council meeting, Scoda urged citizens to make a push to their legislators to “get these things under control.”
Scoda and the Phoenixville Police have done their part to improve gun safety in the borough, hosting gun buybacks in recent years.
Mossman said they are typically met with some resistance when the buybacks come up, including a man during the last buyback who stood outside with an assault rifle and asked to buy the weapons people were bringing in for twice what the police were offering.
“They come outside; they hang around; they offer $100 and they never have a single taker,” Mossman said. “That’s because the people that come here aren’t looking to make money. They want the guns destroyed.”
The weapons the buybacks target are those that aren’t being used anymore but could present a risk if the wrong people get a hand on them.
“If your house is broken into, they’re looking for money and jewelry, prescription medications and guns,” Mossman said. “They’re not looking for a flatscreen TV. They can sell guns to drug dealers no problem at all.”
Mossman also said those weapons could be found by children, as well.
“If you have a gun like that that you don’t need or don’t want, we’re providing an avenue to dispose of them,” he said.
The most recent buyback didn’t bring in as many weapons as previous ones have, but Mossman thinks it might be because the first few were so successful that the number of unwanted weapons has significantly dwindled.
In the meantime, between taking unwanted guns out of circulation and prompting discussion on restrictions of high-capacity weapons, Scoda said he hopes to prevent future tragedies.
“We can’t let these things be forgotten,” he said.