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Assault Weapons Should be Banned, Mayor Says

Mayors throughout country are signing letter to President, Congress seeking stricter gun control legislation.

Last week a 20-year-old man . On Wednesday, more than 750 mayors from around the country, who are part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) coalition, signed a letter to call on President Barack Obama and Congress to pass stricter gun control legislation. 

"With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. Bloomberg is Co-Chair of MAIG.

"We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership–not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today," Bloomberg said.

While his name is not yet on the letter, Washington Township Mayor Ken Short said he intends on signing it, and is completely in agreement with the letter's intentions.

"Unless in military use, assault weapons should be completely banned," said Short, who served eight years on the military. "There should also be very stringent background checks, even household checks. Just because someone has been approved to own a gun doesn't mean others in that home should be around a weapon."

The letter, which included signatures from 67 New Jersey mayors called for three primary objectives to make it harder for people to own guns while easing the job of police and prosecutors to enforce legislation.

  • Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check: Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. These checks are instantaneous and highly effective, but criminals and other prohibited purchasers avoid these checks by buying firearms, including online and at gun shows, from unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks. The Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R.1781 / S.436) would close this enormous gap in our laws by requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale. 
  • Get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets: Military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines have no appropriate civilian or sporting function. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly as well as law enforcement officers. The time has come to review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft a new law that is clear and enforceable and will take these weapons out of our communities.
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime: Today, there is no clear and effective statute making gun trafficking a crime. Prosecutors are instead forced to rely on a weak law prohibiting engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.

The letter has been signed by other North Jersey Mayors including Robert Bowser (East Orange), Maria DiGiovanni (Hackettstown), Dawn Zimmer (Hoboken), Stephen Santola (Livingston), William Laforet (Mahwah), Victor DeLuca (Maplewood), Cory Booker (Newark), James Barberio (Parsippany-Troy Hills) and Robert Parisi (West Orange).

The coalition has also requested that Obama and Congress work together immediated to appoint a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), which has lacked a director for over six years. The ATF is charged with enforcing federal gun laws.

Also that the Justice Department be urged to prosecute prohibited purchasers, any one who fails a background check, who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines; as well as requiring federal agencies to submit mental health, substance abuse and other records that prohibit a person from owning a gun to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Lastly, the MAIG urged for the repeal of the Tiahrt restrictions, which are riders to the federal budget that restrict access to federal gun data. Some of the restrictions in place include information about gun traffickers, that the FBI destroy records of approved NICS background checks within 24 hours and that the ATF

The letter stipulated that Obama and Congress should begin work on MAIG's recommendations immediately and repeal any restrictions in the next budget.

Joseph Keyes December 20, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Gun regulation inconsistencies and ambiguities are major impediments to sensible solutions. The current assault weapon definitions, for instance, are largely based on cosmetics and have little to do with what a real, selective-fire assault rifle is capable of-- and such weapons have been banned since the 1920s’. Large capacity magazines, banned during the Clinton era in 1994 and later allowed to expire during the G.W. Bush era in 2004, may or may not be worthwhile revisiting. A capable rifle or pistol owner can swap out a magazine in under a second, making a 20 round, 30 round, or more clips superfluous. I believe president Obama stated the challenge correctly when he said: “There is a big chunk of space between what the Second Amendment means and having no rules at all…” Inconsistent rule across states, counties and municipalities have been and need to continue to be addressed. Purchasing a gun from an FFL gun store in Delaware by an NJ resident requires all the necessary forms and NJ restrictions do apply. Buying a gun privately? Different matter. Laws in effect are often ignored due to ignorance of them. Having clear, consistent procedures across state and municipal boundaries is a good starting place in initiating rational gun safety legislation.
Dave December 21, 2012 at 12:32 AM
What is banning high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines going to do? First, there are so many in private collector, law abiding citizens hands do you expect them to just give them up? and if yes, will you give me the $50,000 or so to buy mine? High capacity magazines are 30 rounds. Do you think that magazines with only 20 rounds have less chance of harming anyone? If you are going to make laws, make laws that make sense. Please stop wasting my tax money on another impotent law.
Not Domino December 21, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I know - why don't they just pass a law making it illegal to kill people?
12345678 December 21, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Wasting our tax dollars is what they do best, especially if it makes someone feel good...who cares if it doesn't actually solve the problem.
12345678 December 21, 2012 at 03:25 AM
That law doesn't seem to be working, so let's make a few more.
Dave December 21, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Kevin - please let me know where my facts are off.
Dave December 21, 2012 at 04:21 AM
ok. so, I will restate the quesiton. Do you think that magazines with only 10 rounds have less change of harming anyone? The original ban also stated that if the AK-47 had a folding stock and a bayonet mount, it was an assult weapon. But, it was not if it didn't have those options. There were also a few other choices like Pistol Grip, flash suppressor and grenade launcher. Still, was able to buy it if it didn't have any of those. And hte law lasted 10 years. A clear waste of tax payer money and such a feel good law to pass. It lasted long enough to make everyone happy and when it expired, who cared?
Domino December 21, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Why is this even a story? It should be titled "Mayor possibly plans to sign letter when he gets back from Aruba".
Holly smith December 21, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Wow, banning pot, heroin has worked so well, let's waste more money to fight something. Let's give everyone a false sense of security, because with an assault ban, the mentally ill will think twice about killing people. Now with only criminals and a black market selling them, I am sure they will be doing background checks.
LV Taxpayer December 21, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Assault weapons have no place in our society. They should be banned.
Holly smith December 21, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Before the ban and after the ban, they were almost the same. Since the ban ended they have gone up, however, mental facilities across the nation have closed, the ACLU has passed laws making it harder to force help on adults and children for that matter, we have added more and more video games to shelves in stores, that were created to desensitize our military members and parents allow young children and teens to play them, more single family homes with both parents working.....do I like assault weapons, NO, do I own one, NO, do I see a reason to own one, not really, but will a ban work, doubtful, the problem is not guns. 99% of the population is not going to do this and if congress only passes gun laws, they have put a very poor band aid on a huge wound. We deserve more, but we have accepted mediocre politicians running this country on both sides of the aisle.
Holly smith December 21, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Before the ban in the 1980's and during the ban they were practically the same rate. Only since the ban has been lifted did they go up. So what changed? I think it's so much more than a ban.
Liberty December 21, 2012 at 03:42 PM
That one's been around for a while....
Holly smith December 21, 2012 at 03:43 PM
If you are fine with a band aid and that's what the leaders will try to do, then once again you except mediocre from our gov't. How about it becomes so much more than banning something, that people will be able to build and make at home anyway or get in the black market?I guess I just expect more.
LV Taxpayer December 21, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Preventing black market purchases or making things at home *is* very difficult, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do what we can to limit the availability of these weapons that have no ligitimate purpose in civilian hands.
Dave December 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM
So, if/when the same ban is re-enacted. Now what? After everyone pats their backs and everyone feels good about the law in place, what are you going to do? Let's say that I have 5 weapons that fit into this category along with multiple high capacity magazines for each. I have paperwork to show when purchased and that they were purchased 100% legally. Do you now feel safe and warm? Now, what if about half (just for argument sake) of the registered gun owners in our township have at least 1 of these weapons. How do you feel now? Still feel safe? The ban will prevent new assault weapons to be sold if they fit into the specific description provided, yes. But there are still millions out there. What will stop some one from getting hold of one and doing harm? And what about those weapons that don't fit into the description. Same gun, you just can't mount a bayonet to it. Yea, that will stop someone. With the unspeakable horror of the CT shooting, the shooter had hundreds of bullets on him. He had multiple magazines for the rifle he used. He clearly reloaded multiple times. Having 10 round magazines or 30 does not make any difference when someone wants to acomplish such a revolting act.
Joseph Keyes December 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Did you know that 100 round drums are available for rifles such as the AK-47 and even the Ruger 10/22? Magazines that size make little sense unless you have a fully-automatic, selective fire version (an assault weapon), and are authorized to wield such. Otherwise your in violation of federal law. I'm only bring up that point to illustrate how little is known about guns by the average poster here wanting weigh in on viable regulations. Again, regulatory consistency across states regarding sales and transport is the place to start. Banning "assault weapons" without really understanding what one is, is a knee-jerk reaction.
Kurt December 21, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Let's get some facts out there: 1. Automatic weapons are illegal to purchase or own, in any state, unless you have a Class III license. I should know, because I was shooting an HK-MP5SD last week, visiting my Class III owning best friend in GA. Full auto, suppressed, beautiful, and that Class III license means the government has been so far up my friend's fourth point of contact, they should be married. 2. Assault weapons are already banned in many states, including New Jersey. Now, someone may have a close cousin, but technically with a pinned folding stock, removed bayonet-lug, and modified muzzle-break, it is no longer an assault weapon. 3. A responsible gun owner should maintain their weapons, ammunition, and for all non-acute home protection weapons - firing pins located in different areas of the house, if children are in the home. I could hand you my guns and ammo, and you'd still be incapable of firing them. If a gun is desired for home protection, then a biometric gun safe is the only way to go. 4. Charles Whitman killed 17 people and injured 32 with a bolt-action deer rifle. Savages will use any tool available. 5. The monster in CT did not use "legally purchased" firearms to conduct his massacre. He stole legally purchased firearms, thus was in the possession of stolen firearms. 6. More needs to be done about access to guns and those found in possession of illegal guns should be branded terrorists. Leave the legal owners alone.
LV Outdoorsman007 December 21, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Run a mental health check on people to filter out the mentally unstable. May help a little. If they can't find a black market...
Jersey January 03, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I agree 100%. Shortly after the Newtown incident, I looked up the names of the cities whose mayors had signed, and was not surprised that ours wasn't on the list. I'd be very proud to see that change.
Not Domino January 03, 2013 at 08:20 PM
How does the mayor (and the author of this article's headline) define "assault weapon"? A baseball bat can be readily used to commit an assault. So are baseball bats to be included in this ban?

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