DANBURY, Conn. -- Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced Wednesday that he is leaving the advocacy group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" and immediately drew criticism from Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung and an outreach associate for the organization.
Boughton, who joined the group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in February 2013, said in a statement that he is leaving because he disagreed with the direction Bloomberg is taking the group.
"I joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns because I believe enforcement of existing gun laws is preferable to creating new gun laws," Boughton said in the release. "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."
Lafferty and the group were quick to criticize Boughton's decision.
“My mom and my family have strong ties to Danbury – it was where my mother held her first school administration job and I know it is a place that was dear to her heart," Lafferty said in a statement. "That’s why I feel betrayed to learn that Mayor Boughton is putting his personal political ambitions ahead of the safety of Connecticut families. In fact, the tagline for his campaign is 'People over Politics' – but the only people that this decision serves are gun lobbyists."
Boughton is currently seeking the Republican nomination for governor in this year's election. The nominating convention will be held May 16th and 17th in Uncasville.
“We need leaders who have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and who support common-sense reforms that respect rights while protecting people – that’s what Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports and fights for," Lafferty added in the statement. "Our state has been devastated by gun violence and we will remind voters of this betrayal of our trust when it comes time to cast votes."
Dawn Hochsprung was one of six adults and 20 children to be killed in a shooting massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns was founded in 2006 by Bloomberg and is co-chaired by former Boston mayor Thomas Menino. More than 1,000 mayors nationwide are part of the advocacy group.