As rational-minded Americans attempt to jump-start a national conversation about reasonable gun reform in the face of fanatical opposition from the National Rifle Association and the Republican legislators they’ve bought, mayors and law enforcement officials across the country have joined their voices to a growing clamor demanding that we do something, anything, about the epidemic of gun violence that kills thousands of American men, women, and children every year.
An alliance of police chief groups, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association, have called for universal background checks on gun purchases, as the International Association of Chiefs of Police concluded at a recent conference that rampant gun proliferation is responsible for the rise in homicides across the nation, as reports the Huffington Post. “This is a no-brainer, this is the simplest thing in the world,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said. “It troubles me all the time. We took on the tobacco industry years ago…We’re not going to give up, it’s the most obvious thing in the world what we have to do in this country. I have more faith in America.”
On the heels of this announcement is a POLITICO Magazine survey which found that “90 percent of mayors say that Congress is doing too little on issues of firearm regulation and gun violence.” Mayor George Heartwell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, angrily called on our legislators to “buck up and stand up to the NRA. Listen to the voice of the people of America.” Forty-five mayors of from a wide slew of states and parties were surveyed; 91% said they were deeply concerned about the constant gun violence that wracks our society every day. The mayors polled overwhelmingly supported new gun reform legislation, including “expanded/stricter background checks (90 percent); closing the so-called “gun show loophole” (86 percent); expanding gun-buying restrictions to prohibit people subject to restraining orders (78 percent); closing a federal loophole that allows gun sales to proceed unless the FBI background check is completed within three days (78 percent); renewing the federal assault weapons ban (80 percent); and stiffening penalties for “straw purchases” (73 percent).”
“We are losing an entire American generation to this endless cycle of violence,” said Mayor Mitch Landreiu of New Orleans. “It’s a direct threat to our national well-being and security.” With both of these key factions of American civil society calling for commonsense gun reform and a majority of Americans supporting expanded background checks, the excuses for inaction grow thin. It is far beyond time we began taking steps to rein in the rampant proliferation of deadly weapons in American society, and yes, denying them to a population which has proven time and time again that they are not mature or responsible enough to take proper care of their firearms. We owe it to ourselves, if only so we can go to the movies, or to church, or to school without fear of being murdered by a “bad guy with a gun.”
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.