Christine Stuart file photo
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton’s decision to end his relationship with Mayors Against Illegal Guns comes just a few days after he was publicly criticized by Second Amendment supporters at a Capitol rally.

In a press release, Boughton tried to explain his reason for ending his affiliation with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, explaining that he joined “because I believe enforcement of existing gun laws is preferable to creating new gun laws.”

“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,” Boughton said.

But the chairwoman for the Connecticut Democratic Party said he was simply pandering to the National Rifle Association.

“After trying to position himself as a moderate, middle of the road guy, Mark Boughton is now so worried about his political future that he’s decided it’s time to pander to the NRA,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said. “Was he spooked by seeing Tom Foley and Martha Dean at last week’s rally? Who knows? Whatever his reasoning — and spare me the rhetoric in his press release; it’s absurd — he’s now shown that when it comes to common sense gun control, Mark Boughton stands against the people of Connecticut.”

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which sponsored the rally, said it was pleased Boughton ended his affiliation with the group but was uncertain how much it would help.

“We are pleased that Mark Boughton has ended his affiliation with Michael Bloomberg’s organization, although I am not sure that the timing of his departure will help his campaign at this point, or even if his leaving MAIG was intended for that purpose,” Scott Wilson president of the CCDL said.

Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung and who also works for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said she feels betrayed by Boughton’s decision.

“Mayor Boughton is putting his personal political ambitions ahead of the safety of Connecticut families,” Lafferty said in a statement. “In fact, the tagline for his campaign is ‘People over Politics’ — but the only people that this decision serves are gun lobbyists.”

Last August, when Boughton announced his exploratory campaign, he declined to say whether he would have supported or signed the legislation that banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines following the Sandy Hook School shooting. Gun rights groups would like to see the legislation repealed.

“I believe and have believed that those people deserved a legislative response,” Boughton said. “I don’t know if the legislature got it right. I think in many, many ways they didn’t get it right. Particularly when it relates to school safety. To only put $15 million to harden our school sites in the entire state of Connecticut is absolutely bizarre.”

But would he have signed it?

“I would have to think long and hard about that and probably have to make a decision about what I think is best for the residents of Connecticut, but also the response for the parents of Sandy Hook,” he said in August.