Boston Mayor: Time for action on common sense gun reform

By Mayor Thomas M. Menino

As a parent and grandparent, I remain overcome with sadness, grief and outrage by the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This unspeakable act of violence will forever imprint December 14, 2012 in our hearts and minds, and my heart goes out to the families impacted by this senseless tragedy and the many others we have recently witnessed across the United States.

As a Mayor who has seen too many lives forever altered by gun violence, it is my responsibility to fight for action. Now is the time for that action. Each day in the United States, 33 people are murdered by guns. Our nation has been brought to a tipping point. Now is the time for a real dialogue on national gun reform rooted in common sense.

Six years ago, I joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to create Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Today, our bipartisan coalition is more than 800 Mayors strong, and we’ve joined forces with more than 900,000 Americans and 100 survivors of gun violence to urge President Obama to put forward an agenda that will make it harder for dangerous people to possess guns and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them. I encourage you to join people from all walks of life who have signed our Demand a Plan petition by visiting DemandAPlan.org. That agenda would:

· 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. But they still avoid these checks online and at gun shows, where unlicensed “private sellers” 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. Federal legislation known as 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 function. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly and are disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers; approximately one in every five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty is killed with an assault weapon. The time has come to review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft a new law that 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 the business of selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their criminal networks.
As the nation engages in a dialogue on legislation and policy to make communities safer, our own Boston Police Department continues to remove illegal guns from Boston’s neighborhoods. Despite some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, our law enforcement officials continue to remove weapons due to glaring loopholes in federal law. This year, the Boston Police Department has removed more than 500 illegal firearms from our streets. Sixty percent of all crime guns recovered by BPD come from outside the state, demonstrating a clear need for nationwide laws.

Preventing gun violence – whether a mass shooting in a school or a murder on a street corner – will take much more than strengthening our gun laws. We must reverse the culture of violence in our nation so that a violent act isn’t the first response to settling a difference or compensating for a wrong. We need to strengthen and more adequately fund our mental health system so that we can identify troubled individuals earlier and get them the help they need. But strengthening our gun laws should not have to wait for these other actions to occur. It’s clear: The time for action is now.

About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England 舢舨報紙總編輯。舢舨是全紐英倫唯一的中英雙語雙週報。
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2 Comments

  1. Once again, you anti-gun nuts are full of outdated ideas. I am all for background checks for gun purchases, and in most places they require them. With that said, banning large capacity magazines (anything over 10 rounds) and “assault rifles” is just a dumb idea. First of all, what you call an “assault rifle” is just a sporting rifle that looks like a military assault rifle. Very few of these types of rifles come in an automatic firing option, and so far none of the guns that are used in these horrific events were automatic. Now, semi-automatic weapons are what these “assault weapons” come in and they are no different then any other gun out there today, with the exception of single shot weapons. Even a revolver operates similarly to a semi-automatic weapon. They still only fire one shot when the trigger is pulled. Another thing, these “assault weapons” are only assault weapons to you guys because they look scary to you. They are just a stylized look of a rifle and offer a large offering of accessories due to the syling similarities that they share with military assault weapons. Once again, these are not military weapons nor are they exactly like military weapons nor are the made for killing people. They are made for shooting. They can easily be setup for hunting, target shooting, and every other type of sport shooting. They are setup to make it easier for multiple users due to their adaptability. So, please stop calling them “assault rifles” and use the proper term for what they are. They are called sporting rifles.
    Now, as for so called “high capacity” magazines. This is just another item that allows shooters the opportunity to shoot longer without having to reload.They have been using high capacity mags in hunting rifles for years. The most popular being the .22 caliber rifle. What do you think outlawing these will do? Maybe, if you took the time to let go of your emotions for a second and think about this logically you would realize that most of the high capacity magazines that are siezed during criminal siezures are stolen or missing military only mags. Thats right, it is you and your team that are failing to prevent them from getting into the hands of criminals.
    Now for a small example of the ignorance that you are displaying with this gun ban idea. Are drugs illegal? Is marijuana an illegal drug, for the most part, in the U.S.? You know, since marijuana was made illegal it has been incredibily difficult to get. Oh no, that’s right. I can get pot from every other person I walk by on the street. I bet, you probably have some in your house. So if pot is that easy to get, I wonder how hard it will be for criminals to get illegal guns and mags. Please, stop thinking about your politics and start using your head.
    Banning guns and mags will only take weapons out of the hands of civilians that are prepared to protect themselves and put them in the hands of the criminals who want to hurt them. Take some time and look at the statistics for violent crimes before and after a gun ban. Don’t just look at the gun crimes, look at the actual violent crimes. In every American city that has gone “gun free” violent crime has skyrocketed. I wonder if it is because the criminals have nothing to fear!?
    Lastly, I have to say that I am disgusted by your use of these terrible events to further your tyrannical views. You are using these events to strike fear into people so that they will bend to your political views. That is just sick and I am disgusted by you and your fellow politicians. You should be ashamed of yourselves for using these families heartbreak and pain for to spread fear.
    I want you to take a little time and read The Constitution and think about what our founding fathers were thinking when they wrote that. I understand that times have changed, but they haven’t really changed by that much. Yeah, we have more things, more people, and more global conflicts but it is as much the same as it is different. Our founding fathers felt so strongly about this right, that it was only surpassed by the right to free speech. Think about that for a minute.
    Remember, “all men are created equal…” Gun owners expect that if you take our guns from us, then you take the guns away from your security detail and the military and government agents while on domestic soil. If banning guns will work, then there is no need for policing agencies to have then either. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.

  2. anonymous coward

    @Jason R:

    while the right wing has some valid points on gun control saying things like, “you anti-gun nuts are full of outdated ideas” or “I am disgusted by your use of these terrible events to further your tyrannical views” in no way assists your cause and makes you appear to be a radical.

    i am quite thankful the majority disagrees with you. great article by the mayor!

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