College Park Mayor Andrew M. Fellows and Laurel Mayor Craig A. Moe were among 12 mayors from Maryland and 750 mayors nationwide to sign a letter Wednesday urging President Barack Obama to push for tougher gun laws in the wake of Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, CT.
“Together, we urge you to put forward an agenda that is rooted in common sense and that will make it harder for dangerous people to possess guns, and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them,” said the letter, signed by coalition co-chairmen Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and co-signed by a bipartisan coalition of mayors from across the country.
The letter calls on Obama to push legislation to:
- Require mandatory criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun.
- Review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and ban high-capacity rifles and ammunition magazines.
- Make gun trafficking a federal crime.
While the above steps require congressional action, the coalition also is asking Obama to use his executive power to take immediate steps to curb gun violence. They are:
- Appointing a director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an agency that has not had a confirmed director in six years.
- Prosecuting people, such as convicted felons, who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines despite being prohibited by law from doing so.
- Requiring federal agencies to report mental health, substance abuse and other records, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The reporting requirement is part of the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, but few federal agencies comply, the coalition writes.
- Repealing remaining “Tiahrt restrictions.” Named for the sponsor of the federal budget amendments, former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), critics say the restrictions make it harder for law enforcement agencies to curb gun violence by restricting access to information about gun sales.
Besides Moe and Fellows, the other Maryland mayors to sign the letter are:
- Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen.
- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
- Cumberland Mayor Brian K. Grim.
- Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey.
- Garrett Park Mayor Peter Benjamin.
- Indian Head Mayor Dennis J. Scheessele.
- Salisbury Mayor James Ireton, Jr.
- Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin.
- Takoma Park Mayor Bruce R. Williams.
- Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio