After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, two of the city’s top officials were thrust into important positions on the gun control issue. As President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Michael Nutter found himself leading a group who pledged to work to reduce gun violence, and Philly’s top cop Charles Ramsey was appointed to Vice President Biden’s gun control task force. While some skeptics among us (and even Ramsey at one point) feared the gun control debate would fall out of the public mindset by now, it remains a large focus of the national discourse, not hurt by both Nutter and Ramsey’s refusal to let it go. As Ramsey himself has said recently, it’s a debate that’s “not going away,” and when addressing his support of Senator Feinstein’s assault weapons ban, “If the slaughter of 20 babies does not capture and hold your attention, then I give up because I don’t know what else will.” And when he popped up on CNN today, Ramsey stressed background checks, saying “Things like universal background checks … may seem simple on the surface, but it’s something that would be of help.”
On the Mayor’s side of things, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the Sandy Hook Principles today, which read that the Conference will, in part:
>>> Support and promote restrictions on firearm and ammunition sales, transfers and possession to keep guns out of the hands of children (unless authorized [Ed note: WHAT?]), persons with mental illness or mental health challenges (unless authorized), criminals … and anyone else prohibited from possessing them under federal law
>>> Conduct background checks on all gun and ammunition sales … and support the establishment of a federal universal background check system for every such transaction
>>> Reevaluate policies regarding the sale, production, design or conversion of military style assault weapons for use by civilians …
>>> Make a commitment to develop, share and implement technology‐enhanced safety measures for guns and ammunition.”
Nutter said, “If the horrific experience of Newtown could produce a positive outcome, it would be a national commitment to reduce the culture of violence, stop the easy access to guns by those who should not legally possess them, and increase access to badly needed mental health services,” and that’s what the Mayors are all calling for. The full text of the Sandy Hook Principles can be read here, and the Conference’s open letter to Congress can be seen here.