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Bettencourt Signs Mayors' Gun Control Letter to Obama

More than 750 mayors from around the country, including 22 from Massachusetts are urging President Obama for stronger gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting.

On Wednesday, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt joined more than 750 mayors from around the country, who are part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) coalition, signing a letter to call on President Barack Obama and Congress to pass stricter gun control legislation. 

The letter comes in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when a 20-year-old man . 

"With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. Bloomberg is Co-Chair of MAIG.

"We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns," Bloomberg said.

"President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today," said Bloomberg.

The letter, which included signatures from 22 Massachusetts mayors, called for three primary objectives to make it harder for people to own guns while easing the job of police and prosecutors to enforce legislation.

  • 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, 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. 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 as well as law enforcement officers. 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. Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.

Bettencourt was joined by other North Shore mayors including Bill Scanlon (Beverly) and Kim Driscoll (Salem).

The coalition has also requested that Obama and Congress work together immediately to appoint a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), which has lacked a director for over six years. The ATF is charged with enforcing federal gun laws.

Also that the Justice Department be urged to prosecute prohibited purchasers, any one who fails a background check, who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines; as well as requiring federal agencies to submit mental health, substance abuse and other records that prohibit a person from owning a gun to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Lastly, the MAIG urged for the repeal of the Tiahrt restrictions, which are riders to the federal budget that restrict access to federal gun data. Some of the restrictions in place include information about gun traffickers, that the FBI destroy records of approved NICS background checks within 24 hours and that the ATF

The letter stipulated that Obama and Congress should begin work on MAIG's recommendations immediately and repeal any restrictions in the next budget.

Saber Walsh December 21, 2012 at 12:49 PM
The MAIG group is a highly partisan, left-wing activist group, and I truly wish that Mr. Bettencourt didn't buy into their simplistic world. Reform is absolutely necessary -- but instead on focusing on anything that "looks military" (but isn't), we should focus on making sure that anybody who gets licensed actually can pass testing, including safety at the range -- this is FAR more important but politicians don't seem to know anything about how easy it can be in some states to get a weapon yet not even know how to keep it safe. We also need to reform our approach to mental health, but because this doesn't fit the Administration's promises for this term I guess we'll never see it happen. But again we seem to sign up for things in what has become the perfect bar fight while our attention is off what is really happening in our government. In other words, punish everybody else, don't fix the problem, and give the media the tools to hide the latest Obama Administration mistake (like Libya, the horrible response of FEMA to yet another disaster [Hurricane Sandy], the administration's arming of Mexican cartels, etc.) Trying to "ban" these items is like passing a policy that the fire chief needs to arrive before every fire to be sure nobody sets anything else on fire before the engine arrives. The place continues to burn, the problem isn't fixed, yet we can pat each other on the back and say "look, we took control, didn't we?!?"
Jim DePillo December 21, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Weak mayor, gives in to the media hype. Bloomberg is for a total gun ban. "No use in sporting events", shows he knows nothing about shooting.

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