Mayor Menino and Senator Warren Discuss Gun Violence Prevention

Boston, Jan. 18, 2013, — Mayor Thomas M. Menino and US Senator Elizabeth Warren this afternoon met to discuss a gun violence prevention agenda backed by the coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), co-founded by Mayor Menino. Upon the Senate’s return next week, Senator Warren will support a comprehensive approach to preventing gun violence, including three Senate bills focused on gun control reform, which reflect the three main priorities of the coalition’s recommendations sent to President Obama in December: requiring every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check, getting military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off city streets, and making gun trafficking a federal crime. Senator Warren will also continue to review additional proposals to prevent gun violence.
Mayor Menino endorsed Warren in last year’s US Senate election.

“Massachusetts has always had a champion in the Senate on common sense gun reform. Senator Warren will carry on the fight long-waged by Senator Kerry and Senator Kennedy,” Mayor Menino said. “I know she’ll work hard for the people of Massachusetts and the people of Boston on this issue, as we work to turn words into actions that will make our neighborhoods safer.”

“I’m proud to stand with Mayor Menino and mayors across the Commonwealth to fight for common sense proposals to reduce gun violence,” Senator Warren said. “President Obama’s proposals present a critically important start to ending the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our country, and now our work must begin in turning those proposals into reality.”

In a press conference following his meeting with Senator Warren, Mayor Menino also expressed his desire to have any interim Senate appointment follow the Senator’s lead and support her on gun issues, as Paul Kirk did in signing on to the Fix Gun Checks Act along with Senator John Kerry. The Mayor also hailed Senator Warren’s appointment to the US Senate Committees on Banking, Aging, and Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP).

The HELP Committee works on a wide variety of health issues and its jurisdiction includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently released a report entitled “Access Denied”  which recommended that these restrictions be lifted and particularly that Congress remove “policy riders” on federal appropriations bills that limit firearms research at the CDC and NIH provide appropriate funding to study the role of firearms on public health to reduce crime and save lives.

Details on Senate Bills Supported by Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Next week, three US Senators will unveil legislation central to the common sense agenda of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Senator Warren will act as an original sponsor for all three bills.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) will file The Fix Gun Checks Act to close the enormous gap in current laws by requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale. 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. Since its inception, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has blocked firearms purchases at licensed dealerships by millions of individuals who are barred by federal law from owning them. But criminals and other prohibited purchasers avoid these checks by buying firearms, including online and at gun shows, from unlicensed private sellers who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks. Millions of gun sales — estimated at more than 40 percent of the U.S. annual total — are conducted through private sellers.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will file a bill to make gun trafficking a federal crime and empower law enforcement to investigate these crimes. Today, there is no clear and effective statute making gun trafficking a crime. Prosecutors are instead forced to rely on a weak law prohibiting engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. As a result, according to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute 25 percent of those cases while declining only 9 percent of drug conspiracy cases. Despite some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, the Boston Police Department continues to remove weapons due to glaring loopholes in federal law. To date in 2012, the BPD has removed more than 500 illegal firearms from Boston’s streets. Sixty percent of all crime guns recovered by BPD come from outside the state.

Finally, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will file a bill for a national assault weapons ban.

In their December letter to President Obama, Mayor Menino and Mayor Bloomberg argued that military-style weapons have no appropriate civilian or sporting function, but are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly.

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Mayors Against Illegal Guns has created and advocated for legislation to fix background checks, close loopholes, and make communities safer since its founding by Mayor Menino and Mayor Bloomberg in April 2006. The Massachusetts delegation of Mayors Against Illegal Guns now includes 25 Mayors. Mayors recently joining the bipartisan coalition include Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy, Quincy Mayor Tom Koch, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan and Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan.

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