STATE REP RACE Q&A: Erika Johnson Discusses Her Positions On Gun Control, Death Penalty

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple is asking weekly questions to the seven candidates running in contested primaries for the Wilmington/Tewksbury State Representative seat (19th Middlesex).

Below, in her own words, are the responses to this week’s questions from candidate Erika Johnson (D-Wilmington).

#3) What is your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment? When, if ever, should a citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights be curtailed? Do you consider yourself a pro 2ndAmendment candidate? (submitted by Rob Fasulo of Wilmington)  

My interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is as readA well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, written in 1789. While I respect the constitutional right to bear arms, we must acknowledge that much has changed within our government, society and gun technology since 1789. I believe in 2nd Amendment but also support universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole and banning bump stocks and assault rifles. I stand with Congressman Seth Moulton and many other fellow veterans who have called for the ban of assault rifles; saying these dangerous weapons should only be in the hands of trained military personnel.

Gun violence is an epidemic in our country and we must put safeguards in place to protect the population. I applaud the Massachusetts Legislature for passing the Red Flag Gun Law which gives judges the power to strip weapons from individuals flagged as a danger to themselves or others. We, as a society, are becoming desensitized to the atrocities that have happened from Newtown to Virginia Tech to Aurora to Las Vegas; schools to movie theaters to concerts, it’s overdue that we act on common sense gun reform and I’m so proud to live in a state that although slow, has taken action to protect its people.

#4) Do you support capital punishment? When, if ever, should a person convicted of a crime be put to death by its government? Would you support reinstating the death penalty in Massachusetts? (submitted by George Ferdinand of Tewksbury) 

I do not support capital punishment and would not support reinstating the death penalty in Massachusetts. I believe capital punishment violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment, a state should not be able to kill one of their own. As a country, the US is seen as a leader yet this practice is seen internationally as inhumane.

When this issue is brought up, I often think of the victim’s family and the quote “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi. Personally, (god forbid) if I was put in that situation, I would feel more at peace knowing the person who killed my loved one was spending the rest of their life behind bars 23 hours a day than killed.

Also, the sheer cost of capital punishment cases is astronomical; Cases without the death penalty cost an average of $740,000, while cases where the death penalty is sought cost an average of $1.26 million. Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $90,000 more per year than a prisoner in general population. (https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty). If other states took Massachusetts’ lead and abolished capital punishment, that money saved could be reinvested in more effective crime deterrents such as education, gang prevention programs, mental health and drug treatment programs. Between the money spent, long appeals process, media coverage and drawn-out, painful process for the victim’s family, Massachusetts made the right decision when the death penalty was abolished in 1984.  

Bonus “Fun” Question: Which town has the best breakfast spots? TEWKSBURY with Donna’s Donuts, Vic’s Waffle House, Perfecto’s, Bradford Lantern, Deli King, Route 38 Café, IHOP, & Cracker Barrel or WILMINGTON with As Good As It Gets, Country Chef, Sunny Side Café, Modash Café, Heav’nly Donuts, Starbucks & Panera Bread? For the record, each town has 8 Dunkin Donuts. 

In Tewksbury, Perfecto’s, I love their fun coffee flavors and delicious breakfast sandwiches. However, Wilmington takes the cake as Heav’nly Donuts is my go-to spot! My favorite is their Samoa Iced Coffee and every once in a while, a blueberry cake donut. You also can’t beat As Good As It Gets and it’s always nice to have a Starbucks in town!

(NOTE: Do you have a question for the candidates? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com and it may be asked in a future Q&A or in a debate.)

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