WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – After the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, a group of five Westchester mayors has signed a letter to President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders outlining steps they can take to end gun violence.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis, Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano are all members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and joined together to produce this letter.
“It is past time for action,” Roach said. “Continuing to do nothing is an affront to the victims of these tragedies and their families. We have an obligation – to them, to our families and to our country – to demand a plan.”
The letter to Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, calls for the following actions:
- Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check. Today, 40 percent of gun sales in the U.S. go through without a background check under federal law. 62 percent of private gun sellers on the Internet agreed to sell a firearm to buyers who said they probably could not pass a 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.
- Get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets. Military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines have no appropriate civilian or sporting function. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly – and they are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers. We must review the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass a new law that is clear, enforceable and takes these weapons out of our communities.
- Make gun trafficking a federal crime. It may surprise you to learn that today, there is no clear and effective statute making gun trafficking a crime. Prosecutors must instead rely on a weak law prohibiting engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license, which happens to carry the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. The result is that gun trafficking is not prosecuted in a large number of cases. We need to change this and empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers and their criminal networks.
“Recent tragic events have led to a long-needed wake-up call for us to take action,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said. “Violent gun attacks should not be a norm in our society and I am committed to working with other government leaders to ensure the safety of our community, not just now, but for our future generations.”
Officials have been calling for stronger gun laws since Dec. 14 when Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire in a Newtown elementary school, killing 20 first-graders and six adults, before taking his own life.
"As we unite in grieving for the families of Newtown, so too must we unite in taking significant and permanent action to prevent such tragedies in the future,” Bramson said. “These common sense measures will greatly improve the safety of our communities and help ensure that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands."
After the school shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from the shelves of its store closest to Sandy Hook Elementary and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of its stores.
“We have seen a proliferation of these tragedies after the ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. We cannot allow this to continue,” Foster said. “We demand that Congress take the actions necessary to help re-establish safety in our public places … schools, movie theaters, churches, parks.”