Silence on Bartlett's gun ban caps furor
By Clay Bailey
Published Friday, October 30, 2009
The silence that met Bartlett's resolution regarding guns in parks was contrary to the noisy debate that spread through the suburb this summer.
The lack of a second to Alderman Emily Elliott's motion Tuesday night regarding a ban on the weapons ended the controversial issue in the suburb without even a vote.
No aldermen had to express their position publicly on the matter. Since no one seconded Elliott's motion, it failed without discussion. That allowed the state law, which legalized permit holders carrying their weapons in parks as of Sept. 1, to remain in effect in Bartlett.
"I'm disappointed they didn't vote on it," Bartlett resident Tom Rieman said. "They put so much effort into it up to that point."
The effort included holding a public hearing and work session on the matter, both outside the normal procedure for a one-reading resolution. Officials received heavy lobbying from both sides.
"This has been a very vexing issue from Day 1," Mayor Keith McDonald said.
Elliott was the only alderman to take a stand at Tuesday's public meeting. She noted the strain the debate had caused from sleepless nights to political threats.
"I want people to know that it's ironic that the persons who have threatened me and sent me intimidating e-mails and accusing me of not being a true U.S. citizen have been the permitted carriers," Elliott said after her motion failed. "I have not received those kinds of e-mails from people who oppose guns in parks."
Elliott said there were no physical threats against her. However, she was particularly bothered by claims that her stance was un-American.
In many cases, gun owners invoked their Second Amendment rights to support carrying the guns in parks.
"Don't question my love of this country," Elliott said. "... That cut me to the quick"
Rieman said that given the discussion, he thought aldermen should have officially expressed their position. "I think it lacks courage," Rieman said of the board's silence, later adding: "It shows respect of your citizens when you take us seriously and respect our concerns. I didn't see that."
Several aldermen said they did not second the motion because they opposed the resolution.
"That would be a safe bet," Alderman Bobby Simmons said when asked if he wanted to allow permit holders to carry in parks.
Simmons and Alderman John Barzano thought McDonald would second the motion since the administration brought the measure to the board. The mayor said later he doesn't usually make or second a motion before the board.
Barzano, like Simmons, said his silence spoke for him. He said the state granted them the right to carry in parks with the legislation.
"I'm not going to be the one to deny them that privilege," Barzano said.
-- Clay Bailey: 529-2393