Mayors push for stricter gun laws

Gun violence is a daily occurence for mayors across the Chicago area and the state of Illinois, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is leading the push for stronger gun control.

“Whether you are a Democrat, whether you are a Republican, whether you’re rural or urban or suburban, whether you’re from Illinois or Gary, Indiana, given what goes on in some of the transfers of illegal guns — having comprehensive legislation at the national level doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do what we need to do here in the state,” Emanuel said today at a City Hall news conference.

Mayor Emanuel urged state legislators in Illinois and Indiana to pass an assault weapons ban and other common-sense gun control measures.

In urban areas, straw purchases and gun-running are huge problems, so Emanuel and others are looking for ways to better regulate and track the sales of guns.

More than 30 Illinois mayors are joining the call to action, along with the mayor of Gary, Indiana.  The impetus is the massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Gun violence has long been a scourge of urban life, but even mayors from small downstate Illinois communities are worried.

“I’m standing here today to support the call for stronger gun regulations and to ask more city leaders, regardless of the size of their community, and especially those who are in smaller communities, to join our cause,” Mayor Teresa Kernc of Diamond, Ill., said at today’s news conference.

All the mayors acknowledge that an assault weapons ban alone is not enough to deal with societal problems that lead to the kind of rampage that we saw in Connecticut, and violence in our inner cities.

Gun control is a highly contentious issue with concerns about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.  But talking to reporters yesterday, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that government authorities also have a Constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense and public safety.

“I’m not sure what the right to bear arms actually means at the end of the day, because we don’t allow people to have howitzers, mortars, and hand grenades, ” McCarthy said.  “So the question becomes at what level do you draw the bar.”

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson made the argument that there is no legitimate reason in her mind for the use of assault weapons by any law abiding citizens.

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