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.