Mayor’s Office

Vermont Mayors Call for Action from Washington to Reduce Gun Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 14, 2013
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                  802.735.7962

**Please be sure to scroll down below the press release for a copy of the remarks made by the mayors at today’s press conference.

Vermont Mayors Call for Action from Washington to Reduce Gun Violence
Join Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition and Endorse Common-Sense Public Safety Agenda
Announces Vermont Release of National TV Ad Featuring Family Members of Gun Violence Victims

Burlington, VT – Vermont Mayors John Hollar (Montpelier), Thom Lauzon (Barre), and Miro Weinberger (Burlington) today at the Burlington Police Department, called for action from Washington to reduce gun violence, calling on President Obama and members of Congress to enact a common-sense public safety agenda that includes gun laws that would fix the broken background check system so that it applies to all gun purchases and that would improve our national criminal background database so that background checks are more effective.  Further, Mayors Hollar, Lauzon, and Weinberger announced that they were joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a bipartisan coalition of more than 800 mayors, including Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, and more than one million grassroots supporters from big cities and small towns across the nation, dedicated to making America’s communities safer by cracking down on illegal guns. 

“Today, on the one-month anniversary of the Newtown tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we are proud to join together with more than 800 of our fellow mayors from across the country in pushing for common-sense proposals to end our national epidemic of gun violence that kills 33 Americans every day,” said Mayors Hollar, Lauzon, Louras (who was unable to be present for today’s press event), and Weinberger in a joint statement.  “Support for our Second Amendment rights that are such a significant part of our Vermont culture, and efforts to keep guns away from dangerous people are two ideas that are not inconsistent.  That’s why we mayors who are against illegal guns align with more than 80 percent of gun owners who support reasonable measures like criminal background checks for every firearms purchase.”

The Mayors Against Illegal Guns common sense public safety agenda includes legislation that will:

  • Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check;
  • Get military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets; and
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime.

The mayors also announced the release of a new national television ad produced by MAIG that features family members of gun violence victims calling for a plan of action from Washington.  The ad will air this week in Vermont and can be viewed at www.DemandAPlan.org.

Mayors Hollar, Lauzon, and Weinberger were joined at today’s event by Burlington Police Chief Mike Schirling, who stated:  “The focus here, as it is throughout the nation, is on doing everything reasonably possible to make our communities safer.  Doing so requires focus on accountability for those who have demonstrated a willingness to commit serious crime and pose a danger to our communities.  This is the beginning of a renewed conversation with a host of complex issues in play.  Being thoughtful and collaborative is essential to enhancing the safety of our streets, neighborhoods, and schools.”

Also participating in the press conference was Burlington resident and gun collector, Ian Galbraith.  Galbraith, while opposing a ban on assault weapons, is open to federal legislation that would require better background checks and a better criminal database to reduce gun violence.  Galbraith stated:  “I am open to talking about access to firearms by people who are potentially dangerous and believe that better background checks could help reduce gun violence while still maintaining the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun users.”

More than 40 mayors, as well as law enforcement officers, gun violence victims, and responsible gun users from across the country participated in similar events today to demand action from Congress.  Other cities in which these events were held include:  Telluride, CO; Miami, FL; Ft. Wayne, IN; Portland, ME; Lansing, MI; Durham-Chapel Hill, NC; Cranford, NJ; Santa Fe, NM; Portland, OR; Lancaster, PA; and Media, PA.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, since its creation in April 2006, has grown from 15 to more than 800 mayors across the country.  MAIG has more than one 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.

 

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Mayors Against Illegal Guns – Press Event – January 14, 2013 – remarks made by the mayors at today’s press conference
 

Miro
Thank you for joining us this afternoon. 

One month ago, just 250 miles due south of Burlington, we saw the terrible cost of our broken gun laws in Newtown, CT, when 20 children and six of their teachers were brutally murdered with an assault rifle.  This terrifying and horrific tragedy occurred in our country in which 33 Americans are killed with guns every day.

As the father of a first-grader and as a mayor who gets one of the first calls when someone is shot in this City, I feel a deep responsibility to join the loud call for action now to protect our children and communities from illegal guns.

That is why today I am joining mayors and law enforcement officials from around the country to support President Obama’s call for federal action and call for a plan from Congress to end gun violence.  Today Mayors John Hollar, Thom Lauzon, and I are announcing our membership in Mayors Against Illegal Guns and joining more than 40 mayors from around the country who are participating in events today from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.  In doing so, we join Rutland Mayor Chris Louras as members of the group.  Mayor Louras, who was unable to be here today, is joining us in our call for action.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns also will be running a new national television ad today in Vermont urging Vermonters to join the more than 1 million grassroots supporters who are calling on their political leaders to support common sense reforms to protect the country against illegal guns. 

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a bipartisan coalition of more than 800 mayors from big cities and small towns across the nation.  The Coalition advocates for broad national gun reforms that will save lives, support law enforcement, and protect public safety, while also preserving the cherished Second Amendment rights of Vermonters and Americans.

Indeed, support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.  The common sense proposals for reducing gun crime are supported by a wide range of Americans including a majority of gun owners.
 

John
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns common sense public safety agenda includes legislation that will:

  • Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check
  • Get military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime.

 

Miro
We mayors are particularly focused on the element of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns agenda that calls for fixing the broken background check system for gun purchases.

I would like to invite gun owner and collector Ian Galbraith and City Councilor Dave Hartnett to join us for this part of the discussion about background checks.

 

Thom
Background checks are the only way to stop felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people from buying firearms – yet today our background check system is badly broken.  Currently, approximately 60% percent of gun purchases are made through licensed dealers where background checks are required while 40% are made through private sales where they are not. 

This is like setting up two lines at their airport for getting on a plane – one which requires a security check and the other that does not.  Today 6.6 million gun purchases are made each year in the line that has no security screening.

Background checks work.  There is evidence that requiring a criminal background check for gun sales reduces the number of guns that end up in criminal hands and makes it less likely that domestic abusers will kill their intimate partners with firearms. 

Here are a few statistics that suggest the possible implications of an effective national background check system:

  • According to a MAIG 2010 report, states that regulate private sales by requiring purchase permits (which require a background check to obtain) sold 68 percent fewer guns that were later involved in out-of-state crimes than states that did not require purchase permits.
  • According to a Mayors Against Illegal Guns analysis of FBI data, the number of women killed with a firearm by an intimate partner is 40 percent lower in states that have closed the private sale loophole than in states that do not regulate such sales.
  • Even with the current loopholes, since 1999, the federal background check system has blocked over 1.7 million prohibited purchasers from buying firearms at federally licensed dealers.

 

Miro
We are convinced that fixing the broken national background check system is an area where the great majority of Vermonters, including the great majority of gun owners, can come together with ten national police organizations to support reform.   A 2012 national poll found that 82 percent of U.S. gun owners – including 74 percent of NRA members – support criminal background checks for all gun sales.  We suspect that in Vermont – with our proud traditions of responsible gun ownership – these figures may be even higher. 

A week ago, I listened carefully as dozens of gun owners testified before the City Council in the largest public forum that has happened in my time as mayor.  Most, if not all of the statements from gun owners that I heard were consistent with the idea that all gun buyers should have to pass a background check.  I am pleased that one of those individuals who testified and one of the councilors who voted against the local charter change are here to join the call for a national background check today.

Ian Galbraith remarks.

Councilor Hartnett remarks.

Miro
Thank you both.  Together, we hope Burlingtonians and Vermonters will join us in calling on the President and Congress to pass the Fix Gun Checks Act that will require a criminal background check for every gun sale and make sure that states and federal agencies are submitting relevant records to the NICS databases.

Here is how Burlingtonians and Vermonters can do that – by logging into www.DEMANDAPLAN.org and joining the more than 1 million grassroots supporters of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

We are at an important moment in our national discussion about how to avoid future tragedies.  Tomorrow, we expect Vice President Biden to issue new recommendations, and Congress will be grappling with this issue in the weeks and months ahead.  Now is the moment for Burlingtonians and Vermonters to engage this critical issue and make clear that common sense public safety reforms are consistent with the Vermont traditions of responsible gun ownership.

Thank you.

 

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Press Release Date: 
01/14/2013
City Department: 
Mayor's Office