Longmont Mayor Didn’t Read Gun Rights Decree to Maintain ‘cohesiveness’
With at least one city council member threatening to leave the room if a “Firearms Awareness and Safety Day” proclamation was read at last week’s meeting, Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley opted for unity.
He canceled the reading, saying his desire to keep the council unified outweighed his promise to gun-rights advocates that he would read the proclamation.
“The whole point of doing this is to maintain cohesiveness with council,” Bagley said. “I am going to stand by my council. Together, that is where the strength lies.”
Council emails show Mayor Pro-Tem Polly Christensen less than an hour before Tuesday’s council meeting sent a message to Bagley that she would not pose for a photo with the mayor or the proclamation’s supporters and would leave the room if the proclamation was read.
The proclamation was written by Longmont resident Jerry Britton, a pro-gun advocate, and its original language was mistakenly published in Tuesday’s meeting agenda. The version to be read last week was edited by Bagley to remove what he said he viewed as potentially inflammatory statements.
Among the edits to the language that Bagley — who said he owns many firearms — said he made was removing a call for local government to institute gun control legislation.
Christensen opposed the edited version of the proclamation, which also did not contain the initially submitted urge to wear green in support of the proposed “Firearms Awareness and Safety Day,” or the statement that “guns are inanimate objects.”
“I cannot support the Rally for Our Rights-sponsored proclamation tonight,” Christensen wrote Tuesday. “I will not join you for a photo nor will I stay in the room.
“Even as edited, this proclamation clearly intends to have our council tie gun rights with (the) Constitution and Citizenship Day ...,” Christensen wrote.
Britton said he purposely wrote the proclamation so the proposed “Firearms Awareness and Safety Day” coincided with Constitution Day, which is Monday.
In an interview later in the week Christensen said, “I thought this whole proclamation was deceitful on its face. It was equating gun ownership with patriotism and the Constitution. I’m proud of (Bagley) because I think that took a lot of guts.”
Britton is not a member of the Rally for Our Rights group, whose members attended the city council meeting in support of the proclamation and expressed disappointment with Bagley’s decision to cancel its reading. He said he submitted the proclamation to Bagley to “create balance” on city council because he views the Moms Demand Action group — which had a proclamation read by the mayor in May declaring June 2 “Gun Violence Awareness Day” — as politically left-leaning.
Helen Kamin, an organizer of the Northern Colorado regional chapter of Moms Demand Action, said she was pleased with Bagley’s decision to not read the recently proposed proclamation, which the mayor said he made just before the start of Tuesday’s meeting.
“I was surprised, but I was also happy,” Kamin said. “I thought it was a poor decision on the mayor’s part to entertain that sort of proclamation. It just seemed to be retribution by the gun rights group for having the ‘National Gun Rights Awareness’ proclamation.”
Britton said he felt the need to submit a proclamation that promoted gun owner responsibility and safety — which was the same goal of the Moms Demand Action request, according to Kamin — because of the perceived political leanings of the Moms group.
Britton said he respected Bagley’s decision to not read the proclamation and believes it was made out of the mayor’s desire to cooperate with his colleagues.
“The left got their words and a picture done. I tried to create balance,” Britton said. ”... He’s trying to play the middle of the road, and play fair with both sides. He’s doing what he has to do. He wants the best for all people of Longmont. ...You get more with sugar than you do with vinegar.”
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/samlounz .