Harrisburg Mayor calls for Assault Weapons Ban


Following a nine hour stand off in the city last night which ended when the suspect shot himself, City Mayor Linda D. Thompson today called for a National ban on assault weapons and high capacity gun magazine sales.

“It is time to turn a moment of silence into a moment of action. We must end the mass killings facilitated by combat assault weaponry, designed for massive killing power against human beings, to get into the hands of criminals and sociopaths.” Mayor Thompson said today.

“It’s time to demand a plan to end gun violence before our local communities are forced to experience another heart-breaking tragedy like the one Sandy Hook Elementary School suffered last week.” She added.

The mayor, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of 725 mayors across the country with the backing of more than a million grass root supporters, added, “we are asking the president and the 113th Congress to be prepared to pass common sense, fair legislation to immediately reduce gun violence when the next session begins in January.”

Mayor Thompson said she supports the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. “We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law and many NRA members support a ban on assault weapon sales and much tougher legislation.”

However, she added, “We think the time has come to take action on the most critical issue facing mayors and law enforcement officials across the county today — combat assault weaponry in the hands of criminals and sociopaths.”

Mayor Thompson joined the coalition in calling for three major pieces of legislation the 113th Congress and the White House should enact immediately in January:

  • *Legislation now pending in Congress, the Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R. 1781/S. 436), would require a criminal background check for all gun sales. Current Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct checks on buyers, but private sellers, who often sell guns online and at gun shows, can sell with no background check at all. The loophole is enormous; an estimated 40 percent of all U.S. gun sales are private sales and not subject to the Federal background check, giving easy access to guns for felons, other criminals, the mentally ill, drug abusers and other individuals currently prohibited from purchasing guns by existing Federal law.
  • *Some members of the coalition also have called on Congress to ban deadly, military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, many of which were previously banned under the now expired Federal assault weapons ban.
  • *Mayors Against Illegal Guns is also seeking legislation to make gun trafficking a felony – as Senators and others have proposed.

Additionally Mayor Thompson said the coalition will continue to push the President and the Justice Department to set a clear agenda to reduce gun violence and enforce the laws already on the books.

  • *First, the coalition is asking the President to make the confirmation of a new director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms a higher priority than it’s been so far. It has been six years since the ATF has had a confirmed director. Mayor Thompson and other mayors urged the President to make a recess appointment to fill the vacancy.
  • *Mayors Against Illegal Guns is asking the Justice Department to prosecute people who fail their gun background check after lying on the form – a Federal felony under existing law. In 2009, out of the more than 71,000 cases referred by the FBI, the Justice Department prosecuted just 77 of them.
  • *Third, the coalition is asking the President to immediately lift the Tiahrt gag order, which keeps the public in the dark about gun traffickers – specifically, who they are and how they operate.

Mayor Thompson is one of the founding members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns which has grown from 15 mayors in 2006 to more than 725 mayors across the country with more than a million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country.

The bipartisan coalition is co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and it has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable; demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.  Sign a petition to Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence and learn more this critical issue at http://www.demandaplan.org/.