An Oregon resident, who is also a business owner and father, attended the Ashland City Council’s regular meeting on Feb. 4 only to relentlessly mock the governing body over its "knee-jerk" gun control efforts. The members had no choice but to listen.
At first, it wasn’t entirely obvious that the Ashland resident, who identified himself as "Johnny Bolton," was satirizing the issue of gun control. However, it became clear rather quickly.
“I’d like to introduce a new public safety concern group: Citizens for a Really Safe Ashland,” Bolton began.
He went on to pitch some of the group’s “reasonable” and “common sense” measures to improve public safety.
“Citizens for a Really Safe Ashland want to capitalize on the desire to act in a timely manner — or even in a knee-jerk, expedited manner — to introduce a comprehensive public safety ordinance that, whilst perhaps not actually addressing any genuine or legitimate issues, does serve to promote a divisive and partisan agenda ” Bolton said.
“Why, we ask, must we settle for merely copying other municipalities’ poorly thought out, ineffective and unenforceable ordinances when we can craft our own?” he asked.
The man was seemingly speaking out in opposition to a recent proposal to prohibit residents from openly carrying loaded firearms in public. The suggested ordinance would also make it illegal for anyone carrying a gun to refuse an officer's request to inspect the related items. The anti-gun group Citizens for a Safe Ashland reportedly first suggested the measure in an online petition and the issue was taken up by Ashland City Council member Carol Voisin.
The anti-gun group would also like to make it illegal for "a person to fail to prevent access by a minor to a loaded or unloaded firearm without the permission of the gun owner and the minor's parent or a guardian."
Bolton mockingly lectured the city council on why European countries are “lightyears” ahead of the U.S. in terms of public safety, citing the “highly-esteemed British Medical Journal.”
“And I kid you not,” he continued, “[The British Medical Journal] proposes banning all kitchen knives over 4 inches long, because the people would be safer.”
And still, he wasn’t done: “Our proposed ordinance, currently being hastily drafted by our team, will seek to a.) regulate the public visibility of, and b.) seek to punish those that allow minors access to the following potentially dangerous, often unfamiliar, and in some instances, outright scary items: Knives, chainsaws, power tools, hammers, ladders, bath tubs, car keys, alcohol, prescription and nonprescription medication.”
Mayor John Stromberg, who presides over the council meetings, did not look amused by this point.
Yet Bolton reminded council members that the fact that the proposed ordinance would be ineffective and address a “problem that doesn’t exist” is not of great importance.
“We can’t ever be too safe, can we? It’s for the sake of the children,” he continued. “And we, and they must be protected from ourselves.”
Of course, Bolton said of his fake proposed ordinance, there would have to be special exemptions for police officers and others with government-issued permits.
At one point, the camera locked on a female council member, who couldn't help but smile at the over-the-top satire.
Bolton then specifically called out Voisin, urging the rest of the body to be as “outspoken and as enthusiastic” as she has been on the issue of gun control.
“Evidently, concepts such as absolute inalienable rights, liberty and personal responsibility are old fashioned, outmoded and frankly, quite scary,” he concluded. “I genuinely hope all council members tonight truly appreciate the genuine and heartfelt concerns that Citizens for a Really Safe Ashland bring before you.”
A local NBC affiliate quotes Voisin as saying the gun control measures are to better "protect our children."
A cut of the video produced by YouTube user OpenCarryUSMC had more than 258,000 views as of early Wednesday. Video archived on the official Ashland City Council website confirms that the satirical speech took place on Feb. 4 during a regular meeting.
This story has been updated.