To the people of Star Valley:
I love this town. That is why it pained me so deeply to step down. For the record, I am not going anywhere. Star Valley is my home, and I plan to stay here and serve this community in every way I can.
I chose to step down because the town’s political climate has become so toxic, and the vitriol from some on the town council so intense, that I decided my presence in town hall was becoming too disruptive to the town’s essential business. I stepped down in the hopes that my absence in the mayor’s office would allow the council to get back to the important issues facing our community.
Some of you may be wondering what all the fuss has been about. A few weeks ago, certain members of the council began a campaign personally attacking me because I support strengthening criminal background checks — already conducted by licensed gun dealers and strongly supported by law-abiding gun owners — to ensure these checks also cover private sales at gun shows and over the Internet.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would stand in opposition to making it harder for felons, the mentally ill, and other potentially dangerous people to acquire guns. The members of the council should know that 90 percent of Arizonans are in favor of requiring background checks for all gun sales. They should know that 80 percent of our nation’s gun owners support requiring background checks for all gun sales. They should know that 74 percent of the NRA’s membership, of which I am one, supports requiring background checks for all gun sales. And they should know that, regardless of their rhetoric, expanding background checks is a common sense proposal that will save lives, protect the Second Amendment, and is supported by the overwhelmingly majority of Americans.
Unfortunately, Arizona has recently been moving in the wrong direction on this critical issue. Severely weakening our laws, getting rid of permit requirements, and tying the hands of law enforcement has clearly done nothing to stop gun violence in our state. No one knows this better than former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who has exhibited remarkable courage and leadership on this issue — both here in Arizona and in Washington.
There are some in our society who will do whatever they can to stop gun violence prevention measures of any kind. They are a small but vocal minority. The Washington gun lobby thinks that if they make enough campaign contributions, peddle enough misinformation, and spew enough intimidating rhetoric, that no one will have the courage to stand up for the safety of our communities. The recent failure of the U.S. Senate to pass even the most modest gun violence prevention measures is a testament to the fear and influence wielded by this minority.
Too many senators, including Arizona’s very own Senator Jeff Flake, ignored the overwhelming will of their constituents, and they shamefully caved to the pressure of the gun lobby. Senator Flake made a bet when he voted against strengthening background checks — he bet that the people of Arizona were not paying attention, and that our memories are short. I hope we prove him wrong.
This is not goodbye. I am not going anywhere, and I stand by my support for the strengthening of background checks. I simply hope that my resignation will allow the Star Valley Town Council to get back to work and provide this community with the local government that it deserves.