Bloomberg Urges Federal Gun Control Reforms
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling for federal gun control reforms.
Bloomberg outlined his proposals Monday at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at a summit on reducing gun violence.
“This is not a Constitutional question. It’s a question of political courage. The Supreme Court, the one that defines what the Constitution means and says, has ruled that reasonable regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment,” Bloomberg told reporters including WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb.
The two-day summit began one month after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
“Thirty days have passed since 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School – and still, no action has been taken by Washington to end our country’s gun violence epidemic,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Bloomberg is urging President Barack Obama and Congress to increase background check requirements for firearms purchases.
He also says the federal government needs to get tougher on gun trafficking.
“Congress should make gun trafficking a federal crime,” Bloomberg said. “In New York City, 85 percent of the weapons that we recover from crime scenes come from out-of-state sources, but federal laws designed to curb illegal sales across borders are incredibly weak.”
Bloomberg says the federal government must also limit assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 rounds.
“They belong on the battlefield in the hands of our brave, professionally-trained soldier, not on the streets of our cities, suburbs or rural areas,” Bloomberg said. “These guns and equipment are not designed for sport or home defense, they are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly.”
Bloomberg warned that if action isn’t taken during Obama’s second term in office, 48,000 Americans will be killed with guns over the next four years.
“The rate of firearms homicide in America is 20 times higher than it is in other economically advanced nations. We have got to change that,” said Bloomberg.
The mayor also called for changes to gun legislation to begin this week, with leadership from the White House.
At the summit, Bloomberg released “Access Denied” — a new report on efforts by gun lobby to suppress data and research funding on gun violence.
EXTRA: Read The Full Report (pdf)
In New York, people familiar with the internal negotiations say Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have a tentative deal to enact the nation’s first gun control measure following the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
The tentative agreement would further restrict New York’s ban on assault weapons and limit the size of magazines to seven bullets, rather than the current 10. Other elements, pushed by Republicans, would refine a mental health law that allows for civil confinement of people determined to be a threat to others.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not been discussed among rank and file legislators. They say the tentative deal struck over the weekend will be debated behind closed doors Monday in the Senate and Assembly.
If the deal survives as expected, a bill could be presented this week.
Meanwhile, several New Jersey mayors concerned about the illegal gun trade are urging federal lawmakers to pass new “sensible” restrictions on gun ownership.
“Pass sane gun laws now, weapons designed for the battlefield have no place in Union County, no place in New Jersey or elsewhere,” Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr said.
Several mayors from across the state gathered in Cranford for a meeting of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.
“Getting an assault rifle is easier than getting Sudafed. No paperwork, no questions asked,” Mahr added.
Also participating in the Cranford meeting were local officials and families of shooting victims.
Flemington resident Mike Pohle’s son Mike Jr. was one of 32 people killed in the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. Pohle said he is optimistic that at least some gun control reforms will be implemented.
“I do believe that Congress is going to move on universal background checks,” Pohle told WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell. “My son’s head was nearly blown off. Enough is enough.”
Union County’s sheriff said he is angry that more is not being done to curb gun violence.
“You cannot understand people that strive so much to develop and have killing machines available to people that should not have those killing machines,” Sheriff Ralph Froehlich said.
Citing the recent shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., the mayors question why Congress hasn’t taken any action on the issue.
They note that 12 more New Jersey mayors have joined the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition in the past month. Nationally, more than 100 mayors have joined the group.
Many of the mayors joined former Gov. Jim Florio and the father of a shooting victim at a news conference Monday to push for more action on illegal guns and a ban on military style weapons.
The coalition also unveiled a new national television advertisement featuring gun violence survivors and victims’ family members.
The mayors will travel to Washington on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers.
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