Newton Gun Group accused of invoking “political leverage”


NEWTON, MA – A local gun control group is heating up over what residents say they are using an important cause to gain “political power” in the upcoming municipal election on November 2.

Newton Gun Violence Prevention Collaborative (NGVPC), formed in the spring as the Stop Gun Stores in Newton to prevent the proliferation of guns in the community by helping pass Zoning Ordinance 145-21, is accused of using a “sham approval process” for the contested race of the school committee between Shawn Fitzgibbons and Paul Lévy.

According to the claims, NGVCP, which endorsed Fitzgibbons earlier this week, did not reveal the full truth that the candidate was involved in founding the group and that his wife, Kate Wissel, and campaign manager, Emily Murphy, remain two of the six NGVCP leaders.

Although the group said all applicants were subject to the same standards and that there was a blind approval process in case one of the NGVCP leaders disagreed with the decision, many Community members call it a serious conflict of interest and a deceptive campaign tactic.

“This issue of gun safety and gun violence is of critical importance because our most important obligation is to protect our children, teachers and other school staff,” Levy said . “To me, the idea of ​​someone politicizing him in a deceptive way is extremely disappointing and saddening.”

Levy also said he felt his opponent was misleading the public about one of the few issues that Newtonians generally agree on and that decisively describing it is “a disservice to the community. “.

“Even though they force people to meet the same standards, this statement is colored by the close personal connection of those evaluating responses to a candidate,” he said.

“There is nothing unusual about a group endorsing a candidate, but it is highly unusual and possibly unethical for a group to support a candidate whose wife and director of campaign are two of the group’s six leaders, ”said Matt Hills, former vice chairman of the Newton school committee and a current member of the state board of education. “The fact that the material conflict was not disclosed is quite problematic, but it is also completely untrue and puts a cloud over the entire approval process.”

Responding to the claims, Fitzgibbons said it was never a secret that he was logged into NGVCP and that the approval list had a disclaimer that reads: “Shawn Fitzgibbons performed instrumental in founding Stop Gun Stores in Newton and has close ties to the individuals at the helm of NGVPC. “

Further, he argued that only two of the group’s executives are related to him and the approval was unanimous.

“Any idea that this is an effort to promote my school campaign does not correspond to reality,” he said. “A person should review the questions that were asked of the candidates and the answers to those questions are clear. Of the problems, my answers on what a school committee member can do to protect people from guns were the most detailed and most avant-garde. “

“My record on this is much stronger than my opponent’s and in a contested election people try to discredit the approval because they don’t like it,” he continued.

The NGVCP also said it was considering not supporting any candidates, but decided to go ahead as voting is essential to advancing gun control.

The group also said that while most residents are on the same side of this issue, there are different perspectives on how to move things forward, one example being the rift between those who advocate for a complete ban and those who prefer. adopt NGVCP zoning. approach.

“We’re a new organization, but we’ve looked at what other groups in Newton have done to get approvals,” said Laura Towvim, one of the other NGVCP leaders. “It’s no secret that Kate is married to Shawn. It’s public and it’s on our documents. Nothing untoward is happening here.”

“There are rumors that are just not true,” she continued. “It’s frustrating for us.”

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