AURORA | Aurora will not join a host of Front Range cities declaring June 7 to be national Gun Violence Awareness Day after Mayor Bob LeGare said the proposed proclamation was “too political.”
LeGare said he denied the proclamation, which was submitted to him by Councilwoman Nicole Johnston, because of high tensions surrounding the topic of gun control.
“When I read the proclamation it looked like an anti-gun proclamation,” he said in an email to the Sentinel. “This is one of those topics that is a political hot button because half the country loves guns and the other half wants to restrict guns. It’s my decision to make and I stand by it.”
The proclamation comes from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national group with local chapters, including in Aurora, that “campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families,” according to the group’s own website.
This year marks the second Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as “Wear Orange Day.” The movement stemmed from the 2013 death of 15-year-old Chicago resident Hadiya Pendleton whose friends wore orange to honor her after she was shot and killed a week after performing for former President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.
Johnston is a member of the Aurora chapter and agreed to submit the proclamation to the mayor, who has the ultimate say in proclamations that are signed and recognized at city council meetings.
Golden, Louisville, Lafayette, Superior, Denver and Boulder are planning to read the proclamation, according to Jessica Price, the president of the Aurora Moms Demand Action group. Denver’s city and county building and a bandstand in Boulder will be lit up by an orange light to recognize and honor victims and survivors of gun violence.
After LeGare declined to sign the proclamation, members of the local Moms Demand Action group took to Monday’s city council meeting to rally support for National Gun Violence Awareness Day. LeGare was absent from the meeting.
During her testimony, Price asked those who support the proclamation to stand. Nearly all present city council members at the meeting did so, excluding council member Bob Roth, who was running the meeting in LeGare’s absence. Council member Dave Gruber was also absent.
“I thought they did so great, I’m glad I told them instead of accepting ‘no’ as an answer that they come and speak,” said Johnston, who also sported a Moms Demand Action t-shirt under her blazer during the meeting.
The 414-word proclamation points out that “every day, 100 Americans are killed by gun violence and countless other are wounded” and that “Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with guns than people in other high-income countries.”
Another whereas clause says “support for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from people that shouldn’t have them.”
Specifically the proclamation points to the July 20, 2012 Aurora theater shooting where 12 people were killed and 70 were injured as another reason to “renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe” and declare June 7 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the city of Aurora.
“We encourage all citizens to support their communities’ efforts to prevent the tragic effects of gun violence and to honor and value human lives,” the proclamation says.
With no approval from the mayor, Johnston said she’d take the draft document and submit it to the council in the form of a resolution, which requires six votes to pass.
“It wasn’t part of my plan until they started speaking,” she said. “I thought I needed to do more. I thought of it that evening. I can do a resolution.”
Johnston said she will likely tweak the wording for the resolution, making some of the statistics more specific to Aurora.