||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG JOINS MAYORS FROM AROUND THE REGION TO OUTLINE COMMON-SENSE STEPS TO HELP PREVENT ANOTHER SHOOTING TRAGEDY
Mayors Against Illegal Guns Presents Plan In Wake of Tucson Tragedy
Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-chair Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mayors and officials from across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania today outlined steps to help prevent another shooting tragedy like the one that occurred in Tucson, Arizona last weekend. The common-sense steps would go a long way toward helping keep guns out of the hand of criminals, the mentally ill and other dangerous persons. Mayor Bloomberg was joined in the Blue Room of New York City’s City Hall by Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, New York City Sheriff Edgar Domenech, Mayor Jeffrey Jones of Paterson, New York; Mayor Stephanie Miner of Syracuse, New York; Mayor Patricia McDonald of Malverne, New York; Mayor Clinton Young of Mount Vernon; Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Mayor Robert L. Bowser of East Orange, New Jersey; Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City, New Jersey; Mayor Antonia Ricigliano of Edison, New Jersey; Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, New Jersey; Mayor Kim Bracey of York, Pennsylvania; NYPD Officer Steven McDonald, who was shot in the line of duty in 1986 and left paralyzed from the neck down, Malverne Police Chief John Aresta, Hempstead Police Chief Joseph Wing, Immediate Past President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police William Kilfoil, and Tatiana Timoshenko, the mother of NYPD Officer Russel Timoshenko, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2007.
“Just as we saw after Virginia Tech, the Arizona tragedy has once again exposed fatal cracks in our background check system,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The law says that drug abusers can't buy guns, but even though Jared Loughner was rejected by the military for drug use and arrested on drug charges, he was able to pass a background check and buy a gun. It should be clear to everyone that the system is broken and it is time for our leaders in Washington to step up and fix it.”
“The members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the millions of American’s we represent want to protect our communities,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This bi-partisan coalition is determined to help fix a system that is broken while respecting the 2nd Amendment. Let’s put aside the tired rhetoric of the past and take action to prevent further tragedies from occurring.”
“It is imperative that we do all that we can to give law enforcement the tools they need to ensure the safety of New Yorkers and prevent an attack before it happens,” said Congressman King. “That is why, as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Illegal Guns, I will be introducing legislation that would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within a 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.”
“The shocking attack in Arizona, like the one that wounded Steven McDonald so severely so many years ago, boils down to a familiar problem: a handgun in the wrong hands,” said Police Commissioner Kelly. “Later this week the NYPD will report on our examination of over 200 active shooter incidents across the country with recommendations on how to mitigate them. But it’s not possible to prepare for every eventuality. That’s why it’s important for Congress to do what Mayor Bloomberg has argued for years; and that’s enact national laws to make it harder for people like the shooter in Arizona to get guns in the first place.”
“The tragedy that took place in Tucson on Saturday is yet another wake-up call that something must be done to keep guns out of violent hands,” said Sheriff Domenech. “Law enforcement officials around the nation are hamstrung in too may ways by lax or under-enforced gun laws. It is time to do something about them.”
“The tragedy in Tucson, Arizona is a clear reminder of why our nation must reform its gun laws to prevent drug abusers and dangerous people from purchasing guns,” said Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage. “We must do everything in our power as elected leaders to give law enforcement the tools and the resources they need to prevent such senseless tragedies.”
“The tragedy in Tucson has reminded America just how vulnerable it is to senseless acts of gun violence. As a country, we have come together to offer our prayers and condolences to the victims and their families,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Minor. “During this difficult time, Americans are asking their elected officials to help usher in a more civil and compassionate political tone. We must do that. We must also take a serious look at how and why gun violence continues to inflict pain in our country. Too many lives are destroyed, snuffed out too early because of guns.”
“It should have been obvious that this was someone who had serious mental issues and a criminal past, yet was somehow able to get his hands on a lethal weapon, causing the tragedy of 20 people being shot, six fatally,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. “Now, a talented, hardworking congresswoman – who is also a wife and mother – is battling for her life after being shot at point-blank range. Something has to be done at a national level to address what is an obviously unacceptable, yet correctable situation.”
“The tragedy in Arizona is symptomatic of a failure in our society,” said York Mayor Kim Bracey. “The system designed to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people failed. And our elected leaders, legislators from Washington to Harrisburg to Phoenix – have failed to stand up to the gun lobby. We’re too familiar with this in Pennsylvania. In 2009, another disturbed shooter murdered three Pittsburgh police officers with a military-style weapon. If we don’t see action from our legislatures soon, we’re bound to see these tragedies over and over again.”
“As a victim of gun violence, my deepest sympathies go out to the families and the survivors in Tucson,” said NYPD Officer Steven McDonald. “I am deeply saddened by each new gun tragedy, and I wait for the day that our country musters the courage to close deadly loopholes in the law. I strongly support the points that Mayor Bloomberg is articulating today.”
In 2009, Mayors Against Illegal Guns presented the Blueprint for Federal Action on Illegal Guns, a plan comprised of 40 concrete steps to crack down on illegal guns without passing new legislation. The Blueprint report is available here: www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/blueprint. Last week’s tragedy in Tucson reinforces the need to implement the Blueprint and demands additional steps be taken to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.
The additional common-sense steps are:
Fix the Background Check Gaps – Jared Loughner was a drug abuser, and should have been barred
under Federal law from purchasing and possessing firearms. Nonetheless, on
November 30, 2010, he bought a gun from a gun dealer in Tucson. Because of
inadequate resources, insufficient regulations, and inconsistent
administration, the existing federal National Instant Check System (NICS)
fails regularly, omitting records of those who are supposed to be prohibited
from possessing guns. It must be revamped, and records on drug abusers must be
kept in the background check system for five years. Furthermore, the NICS
Improvement Act passed in the wake of Virginia Tech must finally receive full
Share Information and Connect the Dots – Although the United States military had previously
identified Jared Loughner as a drug abuser, there was no protocol in place to
alert the FBI and put that information into the gun background check database.
At Fort Hood, the same problem existed in the other direction; the FBI had
identified an army captain as a terrorist suspect but did not tell the
military before he shot and killed 13 people. President Obama or the Bureau of
Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives can establish a protocol to ensure
that every federal agency promptly informs FBI of known drug abusers who
belong in the FBI’s gun background check system.
Fill the Leadership Gap and Appoint an ATF Director – The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms
and Explosives, the federal law enforcement agency responsible for fighting
gun crime, has operated without a Director for four and a half years.
President Obama has nominated Andrew Traver, a career law enforcement officer,
to fill the position. The nomination has the strong support of Mayors Against
Illegal Guns, and the Senate should give Mr. Traver a careful and prompt
review to help ATF spearhead the fight against gun crime.
Congressman Peter King today also announced that he will introduce legislation that will make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the President, Vice President, Members of Congress or judges of the Federal Judiciary. In the United States, it is illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. Passing a similar law for government officials would give federal, state, and local law enforcement a better chance to intercept would-be shooters before they pull the trigger.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to over 550. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.
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