Leetsdale, Edgeworth and Emsworth Mayors Sign Gun Control Letter Sent to Obama, White House

750 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' across the country ask President Obama to support changes in gun legislation

About 750 mayors across the country sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week, urging him to support changes in gun ownership legislation after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last Friday.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ is a bipartisan coalition led by NYC Mayor Michal Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Edgeworth Mayor Wayne T. Murphy, Leetsdale Mayor Pete Poninsky and Emsworth Mayor Dorothy H. Quinn are among those who signed the letter. Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe said he was not aware of the letter, as he's been sick, recovering in bed and away from official business for a couple of days.

In the letter addressed to the President, the group asks him to support seven changes they say would make it “harder for dangerous people to possess guns, and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them.”

“In the past few days, the American people came together in a national outpouring of grief and sympathy for the families of victims slain in the mass shooting in Newtown,” the letter reads. “We share in that grief. But our constituents are also outraged and looking for leadership from the White House. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to gun violence in our country.”

Specifically, the letter asked the President to:

  • Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check. "Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms," the letter reads. Though checks are routine at licensed dealers, "criminals and other prohibited purchasers avoid these checks by buying firearms, including online and at gun shows, from unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks."
  • Get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets. "Military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines have no appropriate civilian or sporting function," the letter argues. "They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly."
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime. 
  • Appoint an ATF director. "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the federal agency responsible for enforcing our gun laws, has gone without a confirmed director for more than six years," the letter says. 
  • Prosecute prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines. "In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred more than 71,000 such cases to ATF, but U.S. Attorneys ultimately prosecuted only 77 of them," the letter says.
  • Require federal agencies to report records to NICS. The NICS Improvement Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to submit mental health, substance abuse and other records that prohibit a person from owning a gun to NICS, but the letter says "few agencies comply."  
  • Repeal remaining Tiahrt restrictions. "While Mayors Against Illegal Guns and our law enforcement allies have made progress in relaxing the “Tiahrt restrictions,” which are riders to the federal budget that restrict access to federal gun data, some still remain. These remaining restrictions keep the public, particularly researchers and elected officials, in the dark about gun traffickers – specifically, who they are and how they operate," the letter argues. 

Read the full letter here.


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tim December 21, 2012 at 01:01 PM
would be a fine time for all those mayors to capture all the unstable members of society and get them off the street.......two stories in today's trib review indicate other ways that people are injured....one in idaho a man entered a classroom and choked a fifth grade boy......another
tim December 21, 2012 at 01:10 PM
in fort lauderdale a 15 year old boy was doused with alcohol and set ablaze by other teenagers...attempting to control inanimate objects is not a successful approach to eliminating evil actions by unstable humans....the mayors might want to identify the unstable humans to reduce problems
sheridan edmondson December 21, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Thank you for signing the petition. I hope these common-sense suggestions become part of an overall reform. We also need to look at the mental health problems in our country. Too many hospitals have been forced to close their mental health units because they lose so much money treating each patient there. Instead of getting help and treatment, these people end up hurting others and going to prison. This is what happens when our country cuts costs in the wrong areas and closes down mental health hospitals.
John Linko December 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Agreed, Tim..I can see and understand the concern on the part of these municipal leaders, but the problem is much more than just guns. I'm wondering how much emotional, political, or other capital these mayors have invested in the collective mental health of their communities, or how much they realize they do, considering the likely number of police man-hours spent dealing with the mentally ill, as opposed to dealing with gun incidents. In Pennsylvania, the Mayor of a small municipality, such as a borough, has statutory authority over their police department. Hopefully, these mayors have the ability to assess their respective department's focus. In Emsworth, where police service is contracted out to another municipality, hopefully these concerns are being assessed in a comprehensive manner by the Ohio Township Police.
tim December 21, 2012 at 01:52 PM
John, i see some of the problems our police deal with each day, the police often visit the same "law breaking criminals " for drug issues or behavior issues caused by illegal drugs....i would identify illegal drugs a major factor in crimes and use of police time.
tim December 21, 2012 at 02:40 PM
446 school age children shot in Chicago so far this year with strongest gun laws in country – media silent......teapartyorg.ning.com no matter how tough the gun laws are in chicago, the nut jobs still find ways to get weapons......
mary December 21, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Where is Sewickley Mayor on this ?
Larissa Dudkiewicz December 21, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Hi Mary. I'm posing the question to the mayor. It's entirely possible he didn't know about this.
Larissa Dudkiewicz December 21, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The story has been updated. Sewickley's mayor has been ill and was not aware of the letter.
John Linko December 21, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Tim: I see a lot of the same problems, and I agree with you on how much police time is spent dealing with drugs and/or drug-related crime. I believe that independent of the crime statistics there is considerable time spent by police assisting mental health professionals and EMS personnel with scene security and at times transport of people suffering from mental illness. While this time may slip under the radar of traditional crime incident reporting, it is nonetheless significant and likely deserves additional scrutiny by those with political and operational authority over local police activity.


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