The last topic from Council III of the American Library Association (ALA) 2015 Annual Conference I want to cover is the gun violence resolution we ultimately passed over the objections of me and a handful of other Councilors.
The gun violence resolution story started with our ALA Membership meeting on Saturday, 6/27/2015. This is a place where any member may bring a resolution on any topic. People who attend vote on the resolution. If a resolution passes, Council picks it up for possible endorsement.
The membership resolution on gun violence was narrowly voted down at the membership meeting. I was present at the meeting and voted no for the following reasons:
- I do not see a consensus across membership on the desirability of gun control.
- The resolution committed ALA to fight for federal gun control laws. I think it has enough on its plate with library/privacy/copyright issues.
- I felt chapters in Red states would feel the brunt of legislative anger on this issue.
Others thought the resolution went too far in condemning gun owners and/or felt it was too broadly written.
I thought that was the end of it. But the sponsor, a Councilor, brought the resolution to Council. She started by gathering feedback on why it failed. Then she and others rewrote the resolution to narrow it down. Now it would only commit ALA to advocating open carry opt out for libraries. This came after a number of personal accounts of intimidation through open carry.
After reworking, it was brought to us at Council III in the form of CD#45 Resolution on Gun Violence. It was amended a few times to tone down more of the “evil gun owner” rhetoric and to put ALA in the position of assisting state chapters in opposing library open carry.
A member of the Committee on Legislation pointed out that open carry laws were a state issue and that ALA did not have the resources to lobby on a state level. I completely agreed with that. I used my debate time to point out that it should be up to the state chapters whether to take up this issue without input from Big ALA. One of the supporters for the resolution, who spoke before I did, likened a states-right argument to support for segregation back in the 1960s. I politely disagreed.
In the end, only about five of us out of 150ish voted against the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly. When I become aware of a link to the amended resolution, I’ll share it.