WA pest grows up to take on US big guns
A twice-expelled school pest from the backblocks of Belmont who became mayor of one of America’s oldest cities is taking on US President Donald Trump and the NRA over gun control.
Gavin Buckley, who was last year elected mayor of Maryland capital Annapolis, was already a vehement proponent of gun control but since an Annapolis news-paper became the site of a massacre in June, he has upped the ante.
Mr Buckley, 55, wants to organise a summit of mayors of US cities affected by gun violence to put pressure on Mr Trump and the National Rifle Association to tighten gun control through “red flag” laws.
“I try to make it not a partisan thing and say, ‘When these guys shoot up places, they’re not choosing Republicans or Democrats . . . they’re killing our kids, our teachers, our journalists, people in nightclubs’,” he said. “It’s just outrageous.”
The straight-talking former rising star of Belmont Hungry Jack’s is not afraid to speak his mind on this most divisive of American issues — the right to bear arms.
“I don’t believe it’s a Second Amendment issue, I think it’s a small penis issue,” he said.
Mr Buckley is something of a celebrity in Annapolis — a popular mayor who trounced the incumbent in a landslide thanks to a high youth and African American voter turnout, and a restaurateur who runs several eateries including the rock’n’roll Japanese joint Tsunami in honour of the Mosman Park restaurant he started in 1998.
He won favour among the 40,000-odd residents for his response to the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper, in which five people lost their lives.
Mr Buckley attacked Mr Trump for failing to honour victims by ordering flags be flown at half-mast and supported survivors and families of the dead in the aftermath, including speaking at all five funerals.
He also organised a benefit concert headlined by Annapolis siblings Good Charlotte to fund journalism scholarships and help those affected by the tragedy.
As a teenager, Gavin was kicked out of St Norbert College and Belmont high school. “I just wasn’t very good with establishment,” he said.
Later, Mr Buckley found his feet in Annapolis after sailing a 32ft boat across the Atlantic. He met his American wife Julie and the couple have two sons — Dash, 14, and Miles, 11.
Mr Buckley ran for mayor after a stoush with the council over peeling paint on one of his buildings, which culminated in him commissioning a big mural on the historic facade.
Opponents taunted the Democratic mayor during last year’s campaign by distributing a Crocodile Dundee-inspired flyer alleging he had “kangaroos loose in the top paddock”.
Mr Buckley continues to butt heads with the city’s more conservative residents over controversial plans including bike paths that had him branded a “European socialist”.
Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley.
Police at the shooting scene.