NEWARK, NJ – August 8, 2019 – Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined more than 200 bipartisan mayors from across the country to send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), urging them to immediately call the Senate back to Washington to take action on bipartisan gun safety legislation. The letter is signed by Republican and Democratic mayors, including Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso, Texas and Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio.
This past weekend, senseless gun violence claimed dozens of innocent lives and forever changed countless others. America’s mayors are on the frontlines of this epidemic, and our communities can no longer wait for the federal government to take action. Keeping our cities safe is not a partisan issue. That is why mayors are calling upon Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer to immediately bring the Senate back into session and take up bipartisan solutions to this crisis.
“The horrors that were seen over the weekend in Dayton and El Paso are just the latest in a surge of gun violence that is growing both exponentially and unchecked. It occurs in cities like ours that witness many gun deaths annually that never make the national news. This is an epidemic that should be treated as one. It has been 20 years since Columbine, 12 since Virginia Tech, seven since Sandy Hook, and one since Parkland. The time has long passed for Congress to address simple common-sense measures in the wake of any of these ghastly massacres. We, as mayors, with moral and legal obligations to protect our residents’ lives and cities from danger speak in one voice for all of our peoples, to pass needed and necessary legislation to save lives, Newark is a trauma-informed city and we should strive to become a trauma-informed country based on what we are experiencing,” Mayor Baraka said.
“There is no worse thing that can happen to a city. Dayton is pulling together, but this violence has left a lasting void in our community. We cannot allow this tragic event to fade from our memories without taking action. We cannot just accept it and wait until horror strikes again. Politics has stood in the way of action for too long, and I can tell you politics seems very petty when it is your friends and neighbors who are injured or dead. We are urging everyone in Washington to come together and end this crisis,” said USCM Second Vice President and Dayton Mayor Whaley.
“The United States Conference of Mayors has supported common sense gun regulations since 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated,” commented USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. “This year we have been focusing on two bills that could make a real difference in our cities: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019. Both bills passed the House in February and have been languishing in the Senate ever since. 214 mayors are saying today that enough is enough and it is time to pass these bills and help us reduce gun violence in our cities.”
The letter urges the Senate to consider two bipartisan bills that previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019. H.R. 8 would close serious loopholes in the nation’s background check system for gun purchases, and H.R. 1112 would lengthen the background check review period deadline.
For over five decades, the Conference has advocated for policies to combat gun violence, consistent with its support of the Second Amendment. At its 87th Annual Conference, mayors passed a series of resolutions to address this crisis.
The full text of the letter can be found here. It also can be found below:
August 8, 2019
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 201510
Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:
RE: Senate Action Needed NOW on Gun Safety Legislation
On behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors, we urge you to immediately call the Senate back to Washington to take action on bipartisan gun safety legislation.
Already in 2019, there have been over 250 mass shootings. The tragic events in El Paso and Dayton this weekend are just the latest reminders that our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them.
In late February, the House of Representatives passed two bills that would greatly strengthen the background check system:
H.R. 8 passed the House on February 27 on a bipartisan vote of 240-190. It would close serious loopholes in the background check system by:
H.R. 1112 passed the House on February 28 on a bipartisan vote of 228-198. If this bill had been law in 2015, the terrible tragedy that occurred at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston might have been avoided. The bill would extend the background check review period deadline from three to 10 business days, to help ensure that background checks are completed before weapons are sold and that dangerous individuals who should not have them are unable to purchase them.
H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 are bipartisan, sensible gun safety bills that would make our cities and our people safer, and would in no way compromise gun owners’ rights.
We urge you to call the Senate back to session now to take up and pass these bills to help reduce gun violence and the terrible toll it takes in our cities and our nation.
Quick passage of these bills is a critical step to reducing gun violence in our country. The United States Conference of Mayors stands ready to work with Congress, the Administration and others to develop holistic remedies to the scourge of gun violence. America has proven time and again that we can rise to our most difficult challenges. We look forward to working with you to find a way forward to protect our citizens from this senseless carnage.
- NEWARK -