One month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, Angola Mayor Richard Hickman and public safety officials from the Fort Wayne Police Department and Fort Wayne Fire Department gathered today in Fort Wayne to call on President Obama and members of Congress to take immediate steps to end the gun violence epidemic that kills 33 Americans every day.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler were not able to attend today's event, but they have offered their support for efforts to reduce gun violence. Mayors Henry, Hickman, Freeman-Wilson, Kruzan, and Tyler are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Local officials also noted that since the Newtown shooting, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has added more than 100 mayors to its national bipartisan coalition to end gun violence and grown to more than one million supporters. In an effort to keep their community safe, leaders at today's event urged Washington to end gun violence in America by:
• Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales: Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. But federal law only requires background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers. Almost 6.5 million guns are sold each year in the U.S. by unlicensed "private sellers," including online and at gun shows. That means that between 40% and 50% of gun sales may take place with no background check for the buyer.
• Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines: Military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines have no place on our streets. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly, and they have no other use in civilian hands. Today, even people with criminal records or with serious mental illness can and do buy assault weapons from unlicensed private sellers who don't conduct background checks.
• Make gun trafficking a federal crime: Every year, tens of thousands of guns find their way into the hands of criminals through illegal trafficking channels. But there is no clear and effective statute that makes gun trafficking a federal crime. Prosecutors who want to combat traffickers are forced to rely on a weak law that prohibits "engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license," which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.
In addition, a new national television ad will begin airing in the Fort Wayne market detailing the importance of reducing gun violence. The ad is available at www.DemandAPlan.org.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 800 mayors from across the country, including six in Indiana. It has more than one million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable; demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns. Learn more at www.DemandAPlan.org.