Gun Battle: Council Meeting Devolves into Fracas

Mayor Quickly Calls Recess After Gavel Banging Fails to Calm Crowd

  • Firearms debates are beyond the focus of our mission, but the financial and governance elements of this local issue are of interest to us

  • This one was a bit difficult to discern on the streaming video of the meeting, where this subject appears during the first 30 minutes, but here is what we know so far

Before even getting into the meat of the council meeting and while considering modifying the agenda, stuff got real:

Despite intentions to consider a gun safety ordinance at the meeting, a last-minute letter from the NRA caused the council to continue the matter to a future meeting so the letter could be thoughtfully considered. Neither gun safety nor 2nd Amendment advocates in attendance were pleased with the process or outcome. Quite the opposite.

As the Council was discussing postponement of the item for the reason above, the Mayor felt strongly that moving forward now and buttoning it up was preferable, resulting in applause from the gun safety ordinance advocates in the gallery.

One or more residents opposed to the ordinance shouted their disagreement with rushing it through, reported by some in attendance as driven by rumored, last-minute "redline" changes to it that the public was not able to review, and a similar concern about the risk associated with not taking the time to consider whatever was in that last-minute NRA letter (neither of which were available online at the time of this posting).

The Mayor tried to restore order with repeated banging of the gavel, but ultimately called a recess until people could calm down. The camera angles are unfavorable, the microphones are highly directional, and the video and audio gets shut off quickly, so it's difficult to see or hear everything.

Ultimately, the Council agreed to postpone the hearing until 2018, resulting in the group favoring the ordinance (which previously applauded) to file out of the meeting in frustration, shouting at the Council for its lack of action on an item that has been the topic of discussion since early this year (same video/audio issues as with the initial disagreement).

Our thoughts from a governance and process perspective:

  • If and when last-minute, material redlines are introduced or legitimate legal questions/concerns are received for what will become a law, deferring decisions until after citizens (and the council) have an opportunity to review, think and respond seems the prudent choice. Otherwise, the process effectively precludes broad public input because the item (in its final form) has been provided only to people who happen to be sitting in the council meeting.

  • We wonder whether there should be a standing "rule" about timing and voting on late submissions of redlined documents or last-minute letters with potential litigation risk (or Breaking News) so the treatment of such events is well-defined and consistently applied.


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