Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reed joins 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' coalition

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Mayor Kasim Reed, along with more than 750 other mayors across the country, sent a letter yesterday that urged President Barack Obama to take action against illegal firearms.

The coalition, which is called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has voiced its opinion not only in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., but also to violence in their own respective cities. Among the other local leaders joining Reed are Mayors Bill Floyd of Decatur, Earnestine Pittman of East Point, Jere Wood of Roswell, and Patricia Wheeler of Stone Mountain.

"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 coalition wrote to President Obama. "We share in that grief. But our constituents are also outraged and looking for leadership from the White House."

Mayors Against Illegal Guns' letter outlines several measures to curb gun violence, including:

- 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. These checks are instantaneous and highly effective. Since its inception, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has blocked firearms purchases at licensed dealerships by millions of individuals who are barred by federal law from owning them. But 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. Millions of gun sales - estimated at more than 40 percent of the U.S. annual total - are conducted through private sellers. The Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R.1781 / S.436) would close this enormous gap in our laws by requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale.

- 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. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly. They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers; approximately one out of five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty is killed with assault weapons. The time has come to review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft a new law that is clear and enforceable and will take these weapons out of our communities.

- Make gun trafficking a federal crime: Today, there is no clear and effective statute making gun trafficking a crime. Prosecutors are instead forced to rely on a weak law prohibiting engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. As a result, according to the Justice Department's Inspector General, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute 25 percent of those cases while declining only 9 percent of drug conspiracy cases. Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.

In addition, the coalition has asked the president to take the four "immediate" actions which don't require Congressional action. Among those requests: the appointment of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives director and the prosecution of felons who attempt to purchase guns.

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