By Neil Bomberg
On Thursday, April 19, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled S.649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 from consideration by the Senate following three days of heated debate and significant pushback by the opponents of gun safety legislation. Sen. Reid was unable to obtain the super majority (60 votes) he needed to pass two important amendments: one that would have required nearly universal background checks and a second one that would have banned assault weapons. Both of these amendments were supported by the National League of Cities (NLC).
In a letter to Sen. Reid and his minority counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), NLC's President, Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, wrote:
"While we respect the Second Amendment rights of every American, we also know that with rights come responsibilities. As you resume consideration of S.649 please note that America's cities and towns support:
• the registration of all handguns and the licensing of all firearms owners;
• a ban on automatic weapons and armor piercing bullets (except for military purposes);
• a 30 day waiting period for the purchase and transfer of all firearms;
• mandatory sentences for the use of firearms in the commission of a crime;
• federal funding for local crime prevention programs that address gun violence;
• a requirement that all firearms dealers be licensed by the federal government and be in full compliance with all state and local laws;
• the lifting of federal laws that limit the federal government's ability to share "trace data" and other firearms data with local governments; and
• the option for states, cities and towns to adopt stricter standards and rules regarding the purchase, storage and possession of firearms."
Finally and importantly, as a mayor I know that this problem is not only related to the availability of firearms and ammunition, but also to the health and well-being of individuals who own and operate guns. Therefore, we urge you to ensure that any proposal addresses the mental health aspects of gun violence by engaging the Centers for Disease Control in this effort. In addition, we urge you to expand funding through the Affordable Care Act for school-based mental health services."