Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican running for governor, announced Wednesday that he is withdrawing from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national gun control group formed by billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Boughton is well-known for his adept use of social media but, as of early afternoon, there was no mention of his decision on either his mayoral or campaign Twitter feeds. Nor did he mention it on Facebook.
The Boughton campaign tweeted the news Wednesday afternoon:
Boughton initially announced his withdrawal from the group in a brief statement posted on the news page of his campaign website. He later issued a press release.
“As a member of the Connecticut General Assembly, I was a strong supporter of the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen in Connecticut. This remains my position today,” Boughton said.
“I joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) because I believe enforcement of existing gun laws is preferable to creating new gun laws,” Boughton said. “It is clear in recent months however that Bloomberg’s mission has changed from law enforcement to simply increasing gun regulations. As a result, today I have ended my affiliation with Bloomberg’s group.”
Boughton, one of six Republicans running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, has endured considerable criticism from gun-control opponents for his membership in Bloomberg’s group.
“Gun owners in Connecticut are not going to accept or vote for candidates that support gun control; especially ones seeking the highest of State offices,” Scott Wilson, president of Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in January.
“Mayor Boughton is a coalition member of an active anti-2nd Amendment organization that claims to support sensible gun reforms,” Wilson added. “In reality the group, ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns‘ continually works to infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners. The Mayor’s statements about the recently passed gun laws, are also very troubling to gun owners in Connecticut.”
Asked last year by Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie whether he would have signed the sweeping gun control bill enacted by the legislature after the Newtown school shootings, Boughton hedged.
“I believe and have believed that those people deserved a legislative response,” Boughton told Stuart. “I don’t know if the legislature got it right. I think in many, many ways they didn’t get it right. Particularly when it relates to school safety. To only put $15 million to harden our school sites in the entire state of Connecticut is absolutely bizarre.
Boughton’s decision to withdraw from Mayors Against Illegal Guns drew a sharp rebuke from Democratic state Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo.
“After trying to position himself as a moderate, middle of the road guy, Mark Boughton is now so worried about his political future that he’s decided it’s time to pander to the NRA,” DiNardo said in a statement. “Was he spooked by seeing Tom Foley and Martha Dean at last week’s rally? Who knows? Whatever his reasoning – and spare me the rhetoric in his press release; it’s absurd – he’s now shown that when it comes to common sense gun control, Mark Boughton stands against the people of Connecticut.”