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Mayors React to Newtown Mass Shooting, Call for Quick Action on Gun Violence

By Laura DeKoven Waxman
January 14, 2013

Just a few hours after the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown (CT) became known on December 14, Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter released a statement on behalf of all mayors expressing their condolences to the victims, their families, and their community. He expressed their confidence that Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy were doing everything possible today to help the community cope with so much loss and pain.

“Too many times this year, mayors have expressed shock at a mass shooting,” Nutter said. “The Conference of Mayors has been calling for sensible gun laws to protect the public for more than 40 years. We hope that today’s monstrous act of gun violence finally forces this nation’s leaders to make reasonable changes in our gun laws and regulations – changes that will help prevent senseless tragedies such as the one that has rocked Newtown and the nation.”

“Children are dying; adults are doing nothing,” Nutter continued. “The time for action – not more debate, not more excuses – is now!”

Open Letter to the President, Congress

And it was action that Conference of Mayors quickly began to take. Just three days later on December 17 in an open letter to the President and Congress, Nutter, the mayors of the three largest cities, other Conference of Mayors leaders, and Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran urged immediate action, calling on the President to exercise his powers though Executive Order and Congress to introduce and pass legislation to make reasonable changes in our gun laws and regulations. Specifically the letter called for quick action to:

  • Enact legislation to ban assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines being prepared by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others;

  • Strengthen the national background check system and eliminate loopholes in it; and

  • Strengthen the penalties for straw purchases of guns.

Recognizing “that preventing gun violence – whether it is a mass shooting in a school or a murder on a street corner – will take much more than strengthening our gun laws,” the letter also called for reversing the culture of violence in the nation, establishing a bi-partisan commission that examines the broader issues of violence in the country, and strengthening and more adequately funding the mental health system. The letter cautioned, however, that “strengthening our gun laws should not have to wait for these other actions to occur.”

All mayors were then invited to sign onto the letter and at press time about 200 had. The text of the letter and all mayors who had signed it at press time appear below. The Conference of Mayors will continue to add mayors to the letter as they sign on.

Biden Task Force

Just five days after the shooting, President Barack Obama called for “concrete proposals to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day” and designated Vice President Joe Biden to lead the effort and produce those proposals during January. Reacting to the announcement, Nutter said that it “comes as welcome news to the nation’s mayors who must deal directly with the consequences of gun violence in their cities, too often on a daily basis.”

“If the horrific experience of Newtown could produce a positive outcome, it would be a national commitment to reduce the culture of violence, the easy access to guns, and the lack of access to needed mental health services,” Biden continued.

Nutter praised the appointment of the Vice President to lead the effort. “Putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of this effort is a reflection of its importance to the nation. No one is better equipped than Vice President Biden to lead a diverse team from President Obama’s Cabinet and outside organizations in the quick development of a set of “real reforms,” with reforms to our gun laws and mental health system at the top of the list,” Nutter stated.

Nutter said that the nation’s mayors look forward to working with the Vice President through The U.S. Conference of Mayors, and participating in the development of long-needed reforms.” Since then the Vice President has spoken with several mayors individually. He will meet with all of the mayors when he addresses the Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington (DC) on January 17.

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban

Well before the Newtown shooting, the Conference of Mayors had been working with Senator and former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein on legislation to reinstate the ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Nutter met with her on September 20 to discuss the legislation and pledged the Conference’s support for it and commitment to getting it enacted.

Feinstein will introduce her bill early in the week of January 22, the first week in which Senators may introduce new legislation. Specifically, the Feinstein bill would:

  • Ban the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of 120 specifically-named firearms and certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, and shotguns;

  • Ban large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, capable of accepting more than 10 rounds;

  • Strengthen the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and state bans;

  • Protect legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment and exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting and sporting and antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons;

  • Require that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act; ban the transfer of grandfathered large-capacity ammunition feeding devices; establish a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices; and impose a safe storage requirement for grandfathered firearms.

The Conference of Mayors plans to make passage of this legislation a top priority and will urge mayors individually through social media and press conferences and collectively through the Conference of Mayors to work in support of its passage.

Mayors Who Signed Open Letter to President Obama and Congress

Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, PA, President
Michael R. Bloomberg, New York, NY
Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Los Angeles, CA, Past President
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, IL
Kevin Johnson, Sacramento, CA, Vice President
Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Charleston, SC, Past President
Thomas M. Menino, Boston, MA, Past President
Donald L. Plusquellic, Akron, OH, Past President
Gerald Jennings, Albany, NY
William Euille, Alexandria, VA
Ed Pawlowski, Allentown, PA
Joshua J. Cohen, Annapolis, MD
Wade Harper, Antioch, CA
Arlene Mulder, Arlington Heights, IL
Terry Bellamy, Asheville, NC
Nancy Denson, Athens, GA
Kasim Reed, Atlanta, GA
Kevin Dumas, Attleboro, MA
Pete Lewis, Auburn, WA
Deke Copenhaver, Augusta, GA
Lee Leffingwell, Austin, TX
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, MD
Denny Doyle, Beaverton, OR
Conrad Lee, Bellevue, WA
John B. Callahan, Bethlehem, PA
William Brien, M.D., Beverly Hills, CA
Matthew Ryan, Binghamton, NY
Joseph Sullivan, Braintree, MA
Bill Finch, Bridgeport, CT
William Moehle, Brighton, NY
Arthur Ward, Bristol, CT
Linda Balzotti, Brockton, MA
Dave Golonski, Burbank, CA
Miro Weinberger, Burlington, VT
Henrietta Davis, Cambridge, MA
Evan Low, Campbell, CA
Edwin Garcia, Camuy, PR
Harold Weinbrecht, Cary, NC
Kathleen DeRosa, Cathedral City, CA
Mark Kleinschmidt, Chapel Hill, NC
Anthony Foxx, Charlotte, NC
Ron Littlefield, Chattanooga, TN
John A. Linder, Chester, PA
Mary Goloff, Chico, CA
Michael Bissonnette, Chicopee, MA
Cheryl Cox, Chula Vista, CA
David Hartzell, Clarence, NY
George N. Cretekos, Clearwater, FL
Edward Kelley, Cleveland Heights, OH
Jim Anzaldi, Clifton, NJ
Stephen Benjamin, Columbia, SC
Michael Coleman, Columbus, OH
Daniel Helix, Concord, CA
Andrew Weissman, Culver City, CA
Edward MacDougall, Cutler Bay, FL
Bill Gluba, Davenport, IA
Judy Paul, Davie, FL
Joe Krovoza, Davis, CA
John O’Reilly, Dearborn, MI
Tim Sbranti, Dublin, CA
Roy Buol, Dubuque, IA
William Bell, Durham, NC
Marcia Leclerc, East Hartford, CT
Sal Panto, Easton, PA
Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Eden Prairie, MN
Richard H. Garcia, Edinburg, TX
Antonia Ricigliano, Edison, NJ
Dave Earling, Edmonds, WA
John Cook, El Paso, TX
Gary Davis, Elk Grove, CA
Dick Moore, Elkhart, IN
Randy, Penn, Englewood, CO
Kitty Piercy, Eugene, OR
Michael Tetreau, Fairfield, CT
Randy McClement, Frederick, MD
Bill Harrison, Fremont, CA
Craig Lowe, Gainesville, FL
Sidney Katz, Gaithersburg, MD
Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, IN
John Bridgeman, Gastonia, NC
George Heartwell, Grand Rapids, MI
Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach, FL
Rodney Craig, Hanover Park, IL
Pedro Segarra, Hartford, CT
Michael Sweeney, Hayward, CA
Timothy McDonough, Hope, NJ
Annise Parker, Houston, TX
Ron Fisher, Huber Heights, OH
Jill Swain, Huntersville, NC
Connie Boardman, Huntington Beach, CA
Michael Alvarez, Indian Trail, NC
Ava Frisinger, Issaquah, WA
Harvey Johnson, Jackson, MS
Samuel Teresi, Jamestown, NY
Sylvester “Sly” James, Jr., Kansas City, MO
Richard Clanton, Kentwood, MI
Lucy Johnson, Kyle, TX
Art Madrid, La Mesa, CA
Jack Hoffman, Lake Oswego, OR
J. Richard Gray, Lancaster, PA
Virg Bernero, Lansing, MI
Raul G. Salinas Laredo, TX
Patricia Gerard, Largo, FL
Ken Miyagishima, Las Cruces, NM
Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas, NV
Richard Kaplan, Lauderhill, FL
Bernard Carvalho, Lihue, HI
David Berger, Lima, OH
Patricia Krause, Lincoln Park, MI
Richard Gerbounka, Linden, NJ
Randy Watts, Logan, UT
Bob Foster, Long Beach, CA
Chase Ritenauer, Lorain, OH
Paul Soglin, Madison, WI
Wayne Powell, Manhattan Beach, CA
Frank Talerico, Margate, FL
Kathy Catazaro-Perry, Massillon, OH
Alan Arakawa, Maui, HI
A C Wharton, Memphis, TN
Matti Bower, Miami Beach, FL
Lori Moseley, Miramar, FL
Mary Ann Lutz, Monrovia, CA
Steve Tate, Morgan Hill, CA
Jill Techel, Napa, CA
Robert Mezzo, Naugatuck, CT
Jonathan Mitchell, New Bedford, MA
John DeStefano, New Haven, CT
Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, LA
Noam Bramson, New Rochelle, NY
Alan Nagy, Newark, CA
Setti Warren, Newton, MA
Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls, NY
Paul Fraim, Norfolk, VA
Keith Summey, North Charleston, SC
Andre Pierre, North Miami, FL
Stephen Scaffidi, Oak Creek, WI
David Pope, Oak Park, IL
Jean Quan, Oakland, CA
Anne E. Sallee, Oakland Park, FL
Owen Henry, Old Bridge, NJ
Stephen Buxbaum, Olympia, WA
Satish Hiremath, Oro Valley, AZ
William Capote, Palm Bay, FL
Bill Bogaard, Pasadena, CA
Shawn Connors, Pecatonica, IL
Frank Ortis, Pembroke Pines, FL
Sandra Bradbury, Pinellas Park, FL
Brian Wahler, Piscataway, NJ
Nancy Parent, Pittsburg, CA
Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Collins, Plainfield, IL
Michael Brennan, Portland, ME
Charlie Hales, Portland, OR
Angel Taveras, Providence, RI
Nancy, McFarlane, Raleigh, NC
Vaughn Spencer, Reading, PA
Denis Law, Renton, WA
Daniel Rizzo, Revere, MA
Sally Hutton, Richmond, IN
Ardell Brede, Rochester, MN
Phyllis Marcuccio, Rockville, MD
Jim Ellison, Royal Oak, MI
Christopher B. Coleman, Saint Paul, MN
Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, UT
Thomas Odell, Sammamish, WA
Edwin Lee, San Francisco, CA
Mark Bartel, San Jacinto, CA
Jan Marx, San Luis Obispo, CA
David Lim, San Mateo, CA
Miguel Pulido, Santa Ana, CA
Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara, CA
David Coss, Santa Fe, NM
Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica, CA
Michael McGinn, Seattle, WA
Barbara Wallace, Sewell, NJ
Keith McGlashan, Shoreline, WA
Joseph Curtatone, Somerville, MA
Frank Gambatese, South Brunswick, NJ
Brenda Lawrence, Southfield, MI
Noramie Jasmin, Spring Valley, NY
Christine Lundberg, Springfield, OR
Francis Slay, St. Louis, MO
Ann Johnston, Stockton, CA
Joe McElveen, Sumter, SC
Anthony Spitaleri, Sunnyvale, CA
Sharon Wolcott, Surprise, AZ
John Marks, Tallahassee, FL
Bob Buckhorn, Tampa, FL
Jeffrey Lamarand, Taylor, MI
Mohammed Hameeduddin, Teaneck, NJ
Patrick Dunlavy, Tooele, UT
Joyce Cameron, Trotwood, OH
Jonathan Rothschild, Tucson, AZ
Carol Vernaci, Union City, CA
Shelley Welsch, University City, MO
Laurel Prussing, Urbana, IL
Vincent Gray, Washington, DC
Jeffrey Prang, West Hollywood, CA
Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach, FL
Christopher Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA
Kathy Cocuzzi, Westerville, OH
ThomasLeighton, Wilkes-Barre, PA
James Baker, Wilmington, DE
Barry Wright, Winslow Township, NJ
C. Kim Bracey, York, PA