Mayors from across the U.S. are calling on Congress to pass stricter gun control laws, saying more can be done to protect communities from “senseless acts of violence involving guns.”
A group of 162 mayors said in an open letter to lawmakers that they must do more to combat gun violence, and urged them to pass an assault weapons ban and expand background checks.
“How many children must die, how many adults must die before our nation takes action to reduce gun violence?” the mayors, the vast majority of whom are Democrats, said in the letter. “We must and we can do more to protect people from this senseless slaughter.”
Their plea came after another round of shootings over the weekend, including at a teen’s birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama, where four people were killed.
“Mayors and police chiefs are doing everything they can to prevent and reduce gun violence in their cities, although local ordinances are often preempted by state legislatures,” they said. “The time is now for Congress to act. Our children deserve better.”
The letter cited the recent high-profile shootings in Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky that have revived calls from gun-control advocates for stricter gun laws.
“Today we repeat their message and urge you to immediately pass and send to the president legislation to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines and to strengthen the background check system, bills that could have prevented what happened in Louisville and Nashville and so many other cities from happening in the future,” they said.
The demands have run into opposition from Second Amendment activists.
The NRA and gun-rights activists view the push for tighter laws as the federal government encroaching on individual rights. They blame gun violence on the erosion of families, mental illness, and societal and cultural ills.
The issue is shaping up to be a clear dividing line in the 2024 presidential election and competitive congressional races.
Former President Donald Trump and other current and likely GOP 2024 presidential contenders showed their support for gun owners at last week’s NRA gathering in Indianapolis where they rallied behind the push to put armed guards in public in private schools.
Mr. Trump said he will push for a new tax credit to help teachers cover the cost of going through concealed carry firearm training.
“With me at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, no one will lay a finger on your firearms,” Mr. Trump told NRA members. “They want to take away your guns while throwing open the jailhouse doors and releasing bloodthirsty criminals into your communities.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence called for swifter execution of mass shooters, saying “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“So to Joe Biden and the gun control extremists, I say: Give up on your pipe dreams of gun confiscation, stop endangering our lives with gun bans, and stop trampling on our God-given rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution!” Mr. Pence said.
Gun-control advocates, however, believe public opinion is on their side.
A Gallup poll released in February found that 63% of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws, the highest level in 23 years, and satisfaction with the nation’s gun laws has sunk to 34%.
Gallup’s tracking polls show public opinion was divided for years, and dissatisfaction started to rise following the December 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.
Views of gun laws break along partisan lines, with 54% of Republicans saying they are satisfied with the status quo, and 84% of Democrats saying they are dissatisfied.
President Biden last year signed into law the nation’s first new gun control bill in decades.
The legislation, which expands background checks to include juvenile records and incentivizes states to adopt “red flag” laws, came in response to a wave of deadly mass shootings, including a racially fueled attack that killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, and an attack on a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers.