Councilman Objects To Gun Violence Awareness Action


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UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect Councilman Tamburro’s clarification that he did in fact sign the proclamation and that his “opposition was in reference to opening the lighting of the municipal building to any and all interest groups, not to the proclamation.”

Early in Monday night’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Alex Roman read into the record a proclamation declaring June 3 to be Gun Violence Awareness Day in Verona. It was a proclamation that has been made by previous Verona Councils for the past six or seven years. The Council then heard from Peg Zitko, the Essex County lead for Moms Demand Action, a national group working on public safety measures to prevent gun violence. She asked that light its municipal building in orange over the weekend of June 3 to June 5.

Councilman Christopher Tamburro was late to Monday’s meeting, which was held online, and was not present for the proclamation reading or the request. But about two hours later, when Deputy Mayor Christine McGrath returned to the question of lighting Town Hall orange and Mayor Roman asked for the Council’s consensus on that, Tamburro objected.

“There are a lot of residents in town who find the proclamation and inclusion of this to be very ideological in nature,” Tamburro said, “and I do not think that we should be lighting up our township facility for something ideological. I understand it’s veiled as gun safety, and that’s what that proclamation said and so on. But the same organizations that support this are also very much trying to limit gun rights and so on. And I think a good portion, based on the number of gun permits that we have out in Verona, of residents do not support that and doing anything public like that will alienate a portion of our municipality. So I’m opposed to lighting the building orange for that purpose.” Proclamations, which used to carry only the mayor’s signature, are now prepared with the signature of all Council members.

McGrath said that she was “deeply disappointed” by Tamburro’s position. “Responsible gun owners, which are the majority of gun owners in this country, are very supportive of gun violence prevention efforts,” she said.

“Gun violence has become the number one killer of children,” McGrath continued. “And as we heard in the proclamation, two-thirds of those deaths are suicides and that can happen in any community, including ours. And every day I just pray that something won’t happen here.” A Verona gas station attendant, Daniel Pritchard, was shot to death in a robbery in February 2009; Essex County prosecutors have been unable to get a conviction in the case.

Tamburro persisted in his objection. “I think we’ve come to the point that in so much of what we’re doing as far as proclamations and and things like that, that we’re starting to focus on things that are much outside of Verona,” he said. “I think we need to in general as discussed after having six proclamations last time around, start to focus our staff time and our council meeting time on issues that are clearly facing our town. So while I appreciate Councilwoman McGrath’s points, I think we need to start using the lights in our town to bring the town together.”

You can watch the Town Council meeting in full in the video below.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


  1. I support this proclamation and the person on the town council who opposes it should be willing to share his thoughts with the parents who lost their children to gun violence today in Texas.
    Republicans blocking sensible gun reform are promoting the maiming and killing of thousands and thousands in our country. This is unconscionable.

  2. I support the proclamation and am puzzled by Mr Tamburro’s reasoning. Of course it’s ‘ideological’. For now in our corner of the world, a proclamation is what we’ve got which is to bear witness to a national tragedy and raise a voice about it. Further assumptions are just that and need not stifle work necessary in finding consensus on solutions to problems listed.

  3. The gun owners in Verona don’t understand the difference between using guns for hunting animals and using guns to hunt people, assault rifles, then they should be reminded of the care to control the later, which are killing our citizens, especially the most precious ones.

  4. I support the proclamation. We are the only country that has such horrific gun violence and it goes hand in hand with having too many guns and such easy access. Im glad to live in NJ as it has strong gun laws, but the borders are porous and the guns still come in.

  5. As usual, I suspect there are some gross inaccuracies reported on this blog. Clearly the document IS signed by Councilman Tamburro as seen in the article photo. Even the headline “Councilman Objects To Gun Violence Awareness Action” is misleading. The Councilman objected to fulfilling the requests of one particular interest group to light the municipal building orange. This would mean any and all interest groups could request that their causes also be supported by the municipality as well. The point here is maintaining neutrality, not creating a divide especially in the wake of such a recent tragedy – this reporting is just blatantly opportunistic and inaccurate.

  6. I support the proclamation.
    He signed the proclamation and he opposed it at the same time. This is simply a pathetic self preservation tactic by many politicians. “See, I opposed it” (to the right)
    “See, I signed it” (to the left)
    There’s no veiled political agendas in the proclamation. It’s honoring those who’ve suffered from gun violence. I don’t want anyone in office that would oppose that.

  7. He was opposed to giving a green light to special interest groups. Of course he opposes gun violence. Tamburro demonstrates his commitment to kids at the high school every day where he goes above and beyond what’s expected. He also volunteers for the Verona emergency response team. The guy’s character and reputation clearly show what a solid person he is. Whoever wrote this article using biased language is the one who should be questioned—not Tamburro.

  8. The criticism of the reporting baffles me. Councilman Tamburro’s comments are being quoted not opined upon. The video of the meeting is available for your review. I can only imagine his about face in signing the proclamation of which he was previously so critical was engendered by his realization of how flippant and ghoulish his remarks were in the immediate wake of the ( yet another) gun related tragedy in Texas. However, his weak attempt to recast his extremist views on gun control as a general concern about proclamations is truly a profile in cowardice.

  9. The title would be more accurately stated: “City Councilman Objects to Partisan Special Interest Group’s Influence on City Government.” None of us know what his beliefs about gun control are. He was simply saying the city should remain neutral on politically charged matters that it has no jurisdiction over.

  10. I guess we can pretend that his views on gun control aren’t obvious and that his objection is to the concept and not the content of the proclamation. That, of course, only begs the question as to why he not only signed the proclamation but made sure that fact was reported. Could it be that this paragon of virtue was so easily swayed by the immediate backlash to his ill-conceived and callous comments? Sad !

  11. As usual, there are people refuting truth and fact. The headline is accurate. The councilman objected to an “ action” which, for the last 6 years, has been taken to show support for the families of gun violence victims. To say no to this because “a good portion, based on the number of gun permits that that we have out in Verona, of residents do not support that…” he is making a big assumption that anyone who owns a gun in Verona does not believe in supporting sensible gun laws, and we know that is not accurate. Do we need to put this on the ballot as a referendum question? Is that what it will take to pull some empathy out of people? Instead of trashing the article and the writer maybe some in the community need to step in the shoes of those who have lost people to gun violence…..lost children to an 18 year old with an AR- 15. Find your humanity for gods sake.

  12. I can enjoy having a cocktail but also be against drunk driving…the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Same with responsible gun ownership but being against gun violence. Gun violence isn’t “outside” Verona as Tamburro suggests. Just as gun violence wasn’t outside of Uvalde, Texas last week. Guns have overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the top cause of child deaths in this country and gun violence is a public health issue. Lighting up the town hall in orange draws awareness and recognition to this issue, instead of this proclamation becoming lost in the meeting minutes of the town council. Past proclamations of the council have recently included child abuse prevention awareness, signed by Tamburro himself. This initiative included putting pinwheels on the lawn of the Townhall to draw awareness to the issue. Did he object to this proclamation?
    To assume all gun owners of Verona think alike is presumptive and ignorant.

  13. Councilman Tamburro’s “clarification” is completely disingenuous and self-serving, and was clearly made for the purpose of obscuring his extremist views (I mean, who could possibly object to gun safety awareness?!) in the aftermath of yet ANOTHER mass shooting of school children. I’ve watched the video, and his objection is very clearly rooted in his opinion that the proclamation would offend gun owners in the Verona based on his opinion that gun safety awareness is merely a pretext for gun control (which is patently absurd). His position is even more disturbing given the fact that he is a teacher in our high school. I hope the NJEA rethinks that 8k donation it contributed to his last campaign should he run for re-election.

  14. I grew up in verona. Moved out only 4 years ago. I am a gun owner. I believe in the need for serious upgrades to the state and nations gun laws. I also support the 2nd amendment. In light of the 200 plus mass shootings this year alone the status quo just isn’t working.
    Parents must play a larger more hands on roll in their child’s growth and awareness of fire arms. They are here and are not going anywhere anytime soon. Upfront, in their face awareness is needed. Many of my friends are teachers. In NJ and NYC. We have spoken about adding a gun awareness class to any schools curriculum. Hands on handling of unloaded safe hand guns and rifles. Adding vivid depictions of what a bullet will do to a human body. Ballistic dummies or real life pictures. I believe there is merit here. Killing in a video game and watching people get shot to death in movies may be desensitizing to teens. Actual pictures may wake them to the serious and violent truth of gun violence.
    As to councilman Tamburro’s explanation of not wanting to support a particular groups view because of his feelings on their other views, I can understand. But it depends on the view. I believe a person can vote favorable on a proclamation such as this one and still not support the others of that group…. And come away clean. I don’t believe he thought that one through.


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