(CNSNews.com) - More than one hundred of the nation's mayors are breathing new life into the gun control movement.
The "Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition," a bipartisan group of 109 mayors in 44 states, is meeting Thursday in Chicago to "share strategies in the fight against illegal guns."
According to the coalition's website, those strategies include "how to work with local law enforcement agencies and state representatives to maximize penalties for those who possess, use and traffic in illegal guns."
The discussion also will focus on information sharing and "best practices on enforcement and legislative issues."
Two more "working groups" will meet in November, first in Boston, then in Atlanta.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are leading the city-level effort to "take illegal guns off the street."
They accuse the federal government of gutting the "essential programs" needed to keep city residents safe; and they insist they "will not allow our streets to turn into war zones."
The three regional meetings, beginning with the one today in Chicago, are intended to lay the foundation for a national summit of anti-gun mayors in January. That's when the mayors plans to launch "the first-ever coordinated, national effort to convince Congress to take ideology out of law enforcement." (Endorse the gun control agenda, in other words.)
"More than 100 mayors across our country have stood up to say, enough is enough -- illegal guns don't belong on our streets," Mayor Bloomberg said on in a message on the website of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
"Illegal guns have nothing to do with the Second Amendment. This isn't about ideology -- it's about law enforcement. When Washington makes bad decisions to protect criminals rather than the public, our cities bear the tragic consequences. Together we're sending a message to our national leaders that we will not be silent on this issue," Bloomberg said.
The coalition says 109 mayors have signed its Statement of Principles, which was drawn up in April, when the coalition was launched.
The Statement of Principles calls for stricter enforcement of gun laws and increased penalties for criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns.
The mayors who sign the document agree to oppose restrictions on cities' efforts to access and share gun-trace data; and they agree to support the development of technologies that theoretically would help detect and trace illegal guns.
Pending federal legislation would permanently block the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from publicly releasing information that traces guns back to their original point of sale.
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition opposes the bill restricting access to gun-trace data (H.R. 5005) and considers its defeat a priority.
Second Amendment groups says anti-gun groups want to use the gun-trace data in civil lawsuits against the firearms industry.
Go after criminals
The National Rifle Association says the mayoral efforts are too much talk and too little action.
"Mike Bloomberg, if you really want to stop violent crime, you don't need to spend taxpayer's money to throw parties for mayors and hold seminars and schedule photo ops...and act like violent crime is some new problem with some secret solution," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at the NRA's annual meeting in May.
"It's real simple. If you want to get crime off your streets, get criminals off your streets," LaPierre said. "Here's what you do," he said in remarks addressed to Mayor Bloomberg:
"Walk down to Town Hall and tell your prosecuting attorneys that from now on, no plea bargains, no reduced charges, no dropped cases. A drug dealer caught with a gun goes to jail. A violent felon caught with a gun goes to jail. Discharge a gun in commission of a felony, go to jail. Smuggle a gun, go to jail. If you do that, if you stop talking and start acting, your violent crime rate will drop 30 to 40 to 50 percent in one year."
See Earlier Stories:
NYC Mayor's Criticism of Gun Legislation Challenged (March 31, 2006) Gun Groups Boycott NY After Mayor Bashes NRA (Feb. 9, 2004)
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