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Mayor Driscoll Signs Gun Control Letter

Salem mayor Kimberley Driscoll recently signed a letter bound for President Barack Obama.

Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll recently joined the more than 750 mayors across the United States by signing a letter from the Mayors Against Illegal Guns to President Barack Obama.

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear President Obama,

On Friday, December 14th the entire nation watched as parents stood outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School and waited, desperately hoping to be reunited with their children.  That moment will never end for the families of the 20 children and six adults who were murdered that day at the school. 

As mayors, we are charged with keeping our communities safe.  But too many of us have sat with mothers and fathers of children killed with guns.  Twenty-four children enrolled in public schools in your hometown of Chicago were shot to death just last year. 

At the moving memorial service on Sunday evening, you said: “If there is even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that has visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that – then surely we have an obligation to try.”

Our bipartisan coalition of more than 750 mayors has joined forces with over 700,000 Americans and more than 100 survivors of deadly shootings, including the mass shootings you mentioned in your remarks. 

Together, we urge you to put forward an agenda that is rooted in common sense and that will make it harder for dangerous people to possess guns, and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them.  That agenda should:

  • 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.

Those ideas require action by Congress, but there steps you and your Administration could and should take immediately to curb gun violence:

  • 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.  During that time, criminals and those with serious mental illness have been able to take advantage of insufficient enforcement of existing federal gun laws, and an estimated 72,000 Americans have been murdered with guns.  In 2011, for the first time in over a decade, more police officers were shot to death in the line of duty than were killed in automobile accidents.  The need for leadership at the ATF has never been more urgent.  The time has come for you to make a recess appointment to fill the vacancy at the top of the ATF.
  • Prosecute prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines:  The Justice Department should vigorously prosecute felons and other prohibited purchasers who fail gun background checks.  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.  Prosecuting these offenders is a goal broadly supported by our coalition and the National Rifle Association.  The Department should also develop a mechanism for sharing NICS denial information with local and state law enforcement officials by sending them active alerts; or, at a minimum, posting the information at the National Criminal Information Center so state and local law enforcement officials can access it during investigations.
  • 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.  However, few agencies comply.  In October 2011, the FBI provided data to MAIG on reporting by 60 federal agencies.  Of those 60 agencies, 52 had given zero mental health records to NICS. Although total federal agency reporting of mental health records increased by ten percent between March and October 2011, to 143,579, the vast majority of those records had been submitted by one agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Even fewer federal agencies are reporting drug abusers.  Only three agencies — the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the probation and parole services agency for the District of Columbia — have submitted any substance abuse records, and the vast majority of federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, have not submitted a single substance abuse record.  The president should issue an executive order requiring all federal agency heads to certify twice annually, in writing, to the U.S. Attorney General that their agency has submitted all relevant records to NICS.
  • 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.  It also requires the FBI to destroy records of approved NICS background checks within 24 hours.  That makes it harder to detect law-breaking dealers who fake their records, or to identify straw buyers who undergo the checks on behalf of someone who couldn’t pass.  The Tiahrt Amendments also say ATF can’t require dealers to inspect their inventory, which could reduce the tens of thousands of guns that go missing or are stolen each year.  Finally, the police and other law enforcement agencies that get trace data can’t use it in license revocation proceedings or in civil litigation.  The administration should repeal these restrictions in its next budget.

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.  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.

Sincerely,

Thomas M. Menino
Mayor of Boston
Coalition Co-Chair

Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor of New York City
Coalition Co-Chair
John Merrett December 20, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Useless. There are problems in society that will never be addressed by focusing on gun control.
notomayordrisscoll December 20, 2012 at 04:49 PM
This mayor is a joke...pretty big smile....when a bunch if kids just got slaughtered
Nancy Gilberg December 20, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Excellent letter. Thank you, Mayor Driscoll, for signing.
Bill December 20, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Where was the Obama/Dem interest in this when they owned Congress in 09-10. Could have reinstated the ban in a flash. I guess it didn't poll well for Obama's reelection. No mention during campaign either. Also, why has Obama not found someone for ATF? Too busy golfing? Politics of convenience is never pretty.
Alan Hanscom December 20, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thank you Mayor Driscoll for doing the right thing!
John Merrett December 20, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Bill, I'm sure the Dems are concerned about this , ...Obama use this to further his leftist globalist agenda,...naaah. Here is Obama's Metal Storm that can now deliver 250,000 rounds a minute and take down a building,..oh, but that's just for those "good" folks in the government,...regular folks can't have it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFjGbOyd2ek
John Merrett December 20, 2012 at 09:03 PM
A meaningless gesture that does nothing to further discussion on the ills that plague society and is behind these events. Countless millions of law abiding citizens own and safely handle and store firearms. You people calling for gun restrictions are the same people who want God or spirituality out of public life. "As ye sow,..so shall ye reap"
john December 20, 2012 at 09:20 PM
People seem to think chanding the law will stop gun violence,it won't. Changing the law ,I agree with, but be realistic in your expectations. Illeagal drugs are everywhere yet they are illegal. Even if we get serious about putting security in schools it will only last till the next time cities and towns need to make budget cuts. One thing worth doing is making sure security doors don't have glass.
John Merrett December 20, 2012 at 10:16 PM
'Gun free zones" are promoted by people who live in "Gun protected zones" We need to discuss Mental illness, mindless video games, - a host of things that are in play - guns are not the issue,...period.
Simon Vaughn Markham December 21, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Glad to see its getting harder for criminals to purchase deadly weapons! Sorry you citizens won't be able to own full sized military issue assault weapons, that must be really rough on you guys. In addition to stricter gun laws, we should also take some time and effort to further educate our youth about the dangers of guns, dangers of street violence, and the dangers of old men who think every american should be strapped to the teeth with deadly weapons.
John Merrett December 21, 2012 at 01:19 AM
So pompous.
Che Guevara December 21, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Why would a "regular folk" need a gun that could deliver 250,000 rounds per minute? I would assume that's something used in a war. The MIlitary goes to war not "normal folks" you want to use weapons such as this?? Join the Military derp!
Simon Vaughn Markham December 21, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Once youve met VOILENT gang members who are LEGAL gun owners you might understand. Until then statistics and here-say are all you can cite. But no.. lets give our kids guns as long as they have a "bad guy" to aim for.
John Merrett December 29, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Ruger is coming out with a new pistol to honor members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It will be called "The Congressman". It doesn't work and you can't fire it.
John Merrett January 03, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Want to stop a future Sandyhook?,...Here is how, http://takethechallengenow.net/
John Merrett January 04, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Teachers, take a look at this site, it is terrific for kids. http://takethechallengenow.net/
John Merrett January 04, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Best words ever spoken on gun control and the 2nd Amendment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHJspEsHmF0

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