Mayors call for local action on guns: 'We owe it to those who have lost their lives'
- In an opinion post published in USA Today on Friday, Mayors Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, FL; Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh and Ted Wheeler of Portland, OR called for an end to local gun preemption influenced by lobbyists and "special interests" on the state level. The letter cites 43 states which have a form of maximum preemption to prevent cities from passing local gun regulations on top of state law.
- "Your local mayors are ready," the letter reads. "We can pass thoughtful local firearm restrictions that reduce the threat of gun violence while respecting Constitutional rights ... We owe it to those who have lost their lives to gun violence, and to those whose lives we can save yet from tragedy."
- The letter was supported by Mayors Jacob Frey of Minneapolis; Michelle De La Isla of Topeka, KS; Buddy Dyer of Orlando, FL; Sly James of Kansas City, MO; Christopher Taylor of Ann Arbor, MI; Nan Whaley of Dayton, OH; Lyda Krewson of St. Louis; and Jorge Elorza of Providence, RI.
This call for local-level change comes amid a nationwide cry for stricter gun control laws, following the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, which left 17 dead. On Saturday, an estimated 800,000 people gathered at the March for Our Lives in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC to demand action on gun violence, while hundreds of cities around the world hosted "sibling protests." Many of the protests, including the march on Washington, were driven by teenagers and students demanding safer schools.
These demands are being heard on the local level in many cities, and despite an eagerness to take action, this recently-published letter lists examples of how local leaders are restricted from passing gun ordinances, and the consequences they could face for doing so, including lawsuits, removal from office or jail time.
This is of course not the first time that mayors have called for safer cities, nor is it the first time that they've called for increased action on guns. In 2006, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition group that has grown to more than 1,000 former and current mayors advocating for "common-sense gun laws." By joining that coalition, mayors commit to advancing a number of principles, including increased accountability for gun violence, extended background checks for purchasing firearms and development of new technologies to detect gun usage.
One of these technologies that has helped cities monitor gun usage is ShotSpotter, a real-time gunshot detection and alert system designed to "help elected officials address gun violence to ensure a safe environment and healthy economic growth in their cities." A number of cities including Chicago, San Diego and Birmingham, AL have rolled out the technology, and Louisville, KY is working to pair the ShotSpotter tech with a drone pilot that can dispatch drones to the gunshot location within 90 seconds.
These programs and others will be crucial for city leaders to advance efforts on local-level gun control, as will continuing the discussion of gun violence through an open conversation with community members.
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