Who “Took on the NRA”?

Politics doesn’t encourage nuance. We get that. But when campaign mailers for state assembly candidate Laura Friedman declare, “She took on the NRA. And won,” we can’t let that stand.

We’re among the residents, neighbors and parents who came together in 2012-2013, in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting, to effectively ban the decades-old Glendale Gun Show from our hometown.

We reached out to Friedman, a member of the Glendale City Council, for her support. It would’ve been great if she was all in, if she was ready to “[take] on the NRA.” But she was not.

The effort to rid Glendale of the gun show began on Dec. 18, 2012, four days after Newtown, and it began with then-Councilmember Rafi Manoukian, who introduced the ban.

In its coverage, the Glendale News-Press noted that Mayor Frank Quintero was behind the proposal, that Councilmember Dave Weaver was noncommittal, and that Councilmember Ara Najarian was dismissive.

All the way down, near the bottom of the story, the News-Press finally noted where the fifth and final councilmember, Laura Friedman, stood.

Friedman, the News-Press said, “declined to comment.”

We were not surprised.

When we met with Friedman to discuss the issue, she shared with us not her passion for gun legislation or for stemming gun violence, but her reticence to take the lead on the issue. Mere weeks after the massacre of 20 Connecticut first-graders, at a time when a local gun-show ban seemed the bare minimum a legislative body could do to say, “Enough!,” Friedman told us she was under pressure from her constituents to do nothing.

We were disappointed.

On March 3, 2013, just weeks before the council was to vote on the ban, the Glendale Gun Show went on as scheduled at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. While customers shopped for assault-rifle parts, and loaded the trunks of their cars with boxes of ammo, members of the Coalition for a Better Glendale held a press conference across the street, on the steps of Glendale Community College. We asked Glendale Community College Board of Trustees member Vahe Peroomian to join us in a show of support. We asked Mary Boger, then of the Glendale Unified School District board, as well. These elected officials both turned out; these elected officials both spoke up.

We asked Laura Friedman to lend her voice and authority, too. She declined.

We were not surprised.

From day one, Friedman declined to give us assurances of her support privately. From day one, she passed on opportunities to make the issue hers publicly.

On March 12, 2013, the city council voted 3-2 to ban the gun show. It did the right thing. Friedman did the right thing. She joined Mayor Quintero and Councilmember Manoukian in voting to approve the ban. We thanked them all. What they did was important. What they did was good.

What Friedman didn’t do was lead.

Coalition for a Better Glendale founding members:

Joal Ryan

Tony Segall

Deborah Dentler

Steve Ryfle

Laura Scribner

Eileen Young

UPDATE (September 2016):  In the above, we noted that we met with Friedman to discuss the gun show, but that she was noncommittal to our cause.We didn’t note, however, that she was the only sitting councilmember to personally meet at length with us. We believe this is important to state

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