Selectmen, minus one, support gun violence awareness month

It’s gun violence awareness month in Ridgefield this June, and for the second year in a row a resolution approving the proclamation passed the Board of Selectmen 4-to-1 with a dissenting vote from Bob Hebert.

“It’s not that I support gun violence — I don’t,” Hebert said. “I don’t know anybody in my circle of acquaintances and friends that supports gun violence.

“I’d be very supportive of a proclamation that supports gun safety,” he said.

The gun violence awareness proclamation, supplied by a local branch of a national group, states that “in an average month 2,790 Americans are killed by gun violence and another 6,600 are injured, totalling more than one half million people killed or injured since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

The Board of Selectmen’s other members wanted to drop the proclamation or amend it to be a statement on “gun safety.”

The proclamation, as approved, does address one aspect of the gun safety issue: “...the Town of Ridgefield encourages all to recognize that guns and ammunition must be stored separately in securely protected locations” it says, adding that “June 21 has been designated National ASK Day to remind parents and guardians to keep their children safe by asking if guns in their homes are locked and secured.”

‘Complex set of issues’

Hebert, concerned he would be misquoted on the issue, offered a prepared statement:

“I don’t ‘support’ gun violence, and I don’t know anyone who does,” he said. “Last year, we were asked to sign a ‘Gun Violence Awareness Day Proclamation.’ At that time I said I would not sign a proclamation that promotes a false narrative and actually prevents real progress toward meaningful solutions. I also said that I believe the proclamation oversimplified a very complex set of issues.

“However, I did agree to support a proclamation that promotes ‘Gun Safety Awareness’ with goals and objectives that can be measured, and that seek real solutions for a wide range of motivations and causes of violence such as religious hatred, racial animus, mental health, cultural decay, and personal identity crisis to mention a few.

“What progress was made and what meaningful solution have we seen since signing a Proclamation for Gun Violence Awareness Day last year?” Hebert said. “This year, I ask you to consider signing a proclamation that honors all victims of violence, and one that promotes a powerful message of nonviolence — period.”

Retain

Nina Johnsrud, a Ridgefielder who attended the June 7 selectmen’s meeting in support for the proclamation, objected.

“Don’t water this down,” she told the selectmen.

“The way I think of our movement: There’s a cancer in our country,” she said. “...We happen to be part of a movement that’s trying to stop the cancer in our country that stems from deaths from guns.”

The Board of Selectmen’s motion to approve the gun violence awareness month was made by Barbara Manners, seconded by Steve Zemo, and passed with Rudy Marconi and Maureen Kozlark joining them in support, while Hebert opposed.