Last week, in the wake of the horrific attacks in El Paso and Dayton, more than 250 mayors – Republican and Democratic, from cities large and small, rural, urban and suburban – joined their colleagues in a letter urging immediate Senate action to address gun violence.
The United State Conference of Mayors (USCM) has long advocated for policies to combat gun violence, consistent with its support of the Second Amendment. At USCM’s 87th Annual Meeting, mayors passed a series of resolutions to address this crisis. But, with two mass shootings in two days claiming dozens of innocent lives and forever changing countless others, a bipartisan group of mayors from across the country united with Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso and Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton to speak out and demand action.
Mayors are on the front lines of these mass shootings and we cannot allow this to be an acceptable part of life in our cities. For too long, politics and partisanship have gotten in the way of solutions and the people in our cities are paying the price. There are common-sense approaches we can all agree to, including background checks like those in H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, both of which have already been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Conference President Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Immediate Past President Columbia, SC Mayor Stephen Benjamin participated in a telephone news conference call last Thursday to discuss the letter and its important call for action on bipartisan gun safety legislation. Mayors from across the country have taken to social media to voice their support and reiterate that #MayorsDemandAction on gun violence. In addition to the ongoing coverage of the mayors in those cities hardest hit, President Barnett and other mayors have been featured in national print and broadcast media calling for bipartisan action at the federal level.
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dismissed the idea of an early return by the Senate to vote on the background check bills, he has indicated that gun control proposals, including background checks, will be on the Senate’s legislative agenda in September. We are pleased that President Donald Trump has also endorsed background checks as an essential component to stopping gun violence in our country.
Mayors don’t worry about politics. All that matters is getting the job done. Many of us are taking actions to prevent gun violence in our hometowns, but we know action is needed at the federal level to best protect the residents of our cities. We hope our leaders in Washington, D.C., can follow our lead to rise above politics and get things done. Until they do, mayors across the country will continue demanding action to break the political paralysis on gun violence and bring real change.