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Mayors Against Illegal Guns: U.S. Conference Of Mayors Calls On Congress To Pass Comprehensive Background Check Legislation

Non-Partisan Partnership of More Than 1,300 Mayors Passes Resolution in Favor of Life-Saving Background Checks Supported by More Than 90 Percent of Americans

LAS VEGAS, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), comprised of more than 1,300 mayors from across the country, today adopted a resolution urging Congress to pass background check legislation for all gun sales at the USCM Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. In April, a minority in the U.S. Senate voted to block bipartisan legislation, sponsored by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, that would require background checks for all sales in commercial settings, such as on websites and at gun shows – despite the fact that more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks.

Currently, a loophole in federal law allows criminals, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill to avoid background checks by buying firearms from unlicensed  "private sellers" –  often at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions – who are not required by federal law to conduct them. An estimated 6.6 million guns were transferred in 2012 without a federal background check, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all gun transfers in the United States. Empirical evidence from states that already require background checks for all handgun sales shows that background checks save lives. In states where sufficient data is available, there are 39 percent fewer law enforcement officials are killed with handguns, gun trafficking is 48 percent lower, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower, and the firearm suicide rate is 49 percent lower.

The resolution adopted by USCM also urges Congress to improve the reporting of mental health and other relevant records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), an effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals, has blocked 1.9 million illegal gun purchases and permit applications in the past two decades. Despite this success, the system is undermined by legal loopholes and is missing records that enable too many dangerous individuals to obtain weapons they later use in crimes. It is estimated that state and federal agencies have failed to report more than one million records of persons with dangerous mental illness into the NICS database.

Following passage of the resolution, mayors from across the country offered the following statements:

USCM President and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Michael Nutter
"We are deeply concerned about violence in our communities. In Philadelphia, where gun violence claims the lives of hundreds of people each year, we must continue to make protecting our citizens and law enforcement officials a top priority. The United States Conference of Mayors has been an advocate for common sense policies that keep guns out of dangerous hands while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and with that in mind we urge Congress to pass legislation that would make our communities safer by requiring a background check for every gun sale."

Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero
"Background checks are a commonsense way to prevent gun violence in our cities, and without infringing upon our Second Amendment rights. They are proven to save lives and make it easier for law enforcement to track down criminals-- and for me that means a safer Lansing. I urge our leaders in Congress to come together to pass background check legislation-- because we can't afford to lose one more life that could have been saved with simple protections in place."

Elizabeth, New Jersey Mayor J. Christian Bollwage
"Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying guns. It is time for our elected officials to put politics aside, act now on this important public safety issue and make background checks a reality."

Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael B. Coleman
"Background checks keep dangerous people from getting guns, plain and simple, and 83 percent of Ohioans agree that they're a sensible way to curb gun violence in our communities. As elected officials we have a duty to act on their behalf and do the right thing to keep our citizens safe. I support USCM's resolution in support of background checks, because it's time for Congress to put politics aside and prioritize the safety of our communities."

Las Vegas, Nevada Mayor Carolyn Goodman
"As mayor, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and those who have obvious anti-social mental problems is common sense when it comes to keeping Las Vegas safer. I urge our lawmakers to follow the will of 91 percent of Americans who support life-saving background check legislation— because background checks are not just formalities to acquiring a handgun, they are a critical tool for protecting the safety of our communities."

Chapel Hill, North Carolina Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt
"90 percent of North Carolinians are in favor of commonsense background checks on gun sales, yet Congress has refused to act and the North Carolina legislature is threatening to repeal important gun safety laws that keep criminals from buying guns. As mayors from all corners of the country, we know federal background checks will keep our communities safer-- and that's why we urge our leaders in Congress to do the right thing and take action now."

Minneapolis, Minnesota Mayor R.T. Rybak
"We need to give our law enforcement all the tools they need to keep our communities safe. Background checks are a step in the right direction—they help block criminals from getting guns, and they help law enforcement catch criminals by leaving a trail to trace guns recovered at crime scenes. Background checks make sense: An overwhelming majority of Americans know it, and I hope our elected officials in Congress will begin to listen."

Hartford, Connecticut Mayor Pedro Segarra
"In Connecticut, where state-enforced background checks are in place, 39 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with guns and 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners. Public safety shouldn't be a political issue—and that's why I support the USCM resolution urging Congress to enact commonsense, life-saving background checks. It's time for our federal government to do their part on behalf of the 91 percent of Americans who support background checks."            

Newton, Massachusetts Mayor Setti Warren 
"Because of a loophole in our system, criminals can avoid background checks by going to so-called 'private sellers' to get guns-- and our communities are less safe because of it. Without federal background checks in place, we are seriously debilitating law enforcement's ability to track down and keep criminals from getting guns. The longer we wait, the more our citizens and communities pay the price. I'm proud to stand with mayors from all corners of the United States in calling on Congress to pass background checks on gun sales."

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 950 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns. Learn more at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org

MEDIA CONTACTS
Kate Downen:kdownen@maig.org or 406-224-5056
Jack Warner: jwarner@maig.org or 914-575-1090

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns

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