Members from the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition gathered in New York this morning to advocate for a simple solution to cutting down on gun violence: just adhere to the existing laws already on the books.
The group, lead by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, released a press statement this morning calling for the government to crack down on background check loopholes. They are pushing for a stricter enforcement of the 1968 gun law that prohibits people with a history of drug abuse, criminal activity, or mental illness, from buying guns.
“The time has clearly come to finally fulfill the intent of the common sense gun law passed after the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, by creating a loophole-free background check system for the sale of firearms,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns – and most of them are purchased or possessed illegally.”
Family members of victims of violence, including Martin Luther III and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert Kennedy’s eldest daughter, joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns in their release.
“I wholeheartedly join Mayor Bloomberg in calling on the President and Congress to finally deliver on the long unfilled promise to make sure that every gun buyer passes a background check. It is unconscionable to do anything less,” said Martin Luther King III.
Of the politicians that have spoken out for stronger gun regulations, two of the most highly publicized have come from New York. Rep. Peter King proposed legislation that would prohibit guns within a 1,000 foot radius government officials, and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy wants to ban the sale of high capacity magazines.
Rather than propose totally new legislation, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns are putting time limits on the enforcement of the existing 1968 laws. In their statement, the group gives Congress a three-year time frame to update the background check system. They are pushing for the inclusion of felony convictions, drug crime, domestic violence incidents, and mental illness information in the system. As news continues to come out about the drug history and mental condition of the Tucson shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, many blame the lax background check requirements as the reason why he was allowed to purchase a gun legally.
The group also wants to require every gun sale to use background checks. As the law stands, only official gun sellers need to use background checks, which excludes ‘occasional’ sellers, like those at gun fairs or over the internet.
“As Governor of Vermont, I received an A-rating from the NRA and I strongly support the right of law-abiding Americans to own a gun,” said Howard Dean.
“I also believe with equal strength that felons, drug abusers, and the mentally ill have no right to guns. I stand with America’s mayors in their effort to make the system work.”