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Mayor Wood Signs 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' Letter to Obama

The national group of mayors, including a dozen from Georgia, sent a letter to President Obama Wednesday outlining the need to change gun legislation in the United States.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood joined more than 750 mayors across the country Wednesday in sending a letter to President Barack Obama in response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the need to change gun legislation in the United States.

Wood was among a dozen state mayors to join the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group is led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. 

However, when Patch confirmed Wood had indeed signed the letter, his assistant said Wood was not an official member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and could not speak on the group's behalf to give a comment.

The letter read, in part, "As mayors, we are charged with keeping our communities safe. But too many of us have sat with mothers and fathers of children killed with guns. Twenty-four children enrolled in public schools in your hometown of Chicago were shot to death just last year.

At the moving memorial service on Sunday evening, you said: “If there is even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that has visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that - then surely we have an obligation to try."

In the letter, dated Dec. 19, 2012, the mayors ask the President to do seven things. They are:

  • Require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check:  Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. These checks are instantaneous and highly effective. Since its inception, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has blocked firearms purchases at licensed dealerships by millions of individuals who are barred by federal law from owning them. But criminals and other prohibited purchasers avoid these checks by buying firearms, including online and at gun shows, from unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks. Millions of gun sales — estimated at more than 40 percent of the U.S. annual total — are conducted through private sellers. The Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R.1781 / S.436) would close this enormous gap in our laws by requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale. 
  • Get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets:  Military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines have no appropriate civilian or sporting function. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly. They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers; approximately one out of five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty is killed with assault weapons. The time has come to review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft a new law that is clear and enforceable and will take these weapons out of our communities.
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime: Today, there is no clear and effective statute making gun trafficking a crime. Prosecutors are instead forced to rely on a weak law prohibiting engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. As a result, according to the Justice Department’s Inspector General, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute 25 percent of those cases while declining only 9 percent of drug conspiracy cases. Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.

Those ideas require action by Congress, but there steps you and your Administration could and should take immediately to curb gun violence:

  • Appoint an ATF director: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the federal agency responsible for enforcing our gun laws, has gone without a confirmed director for more than six years.  During that time, criminals and those with serious mental illness have been able to take advantage of insufficient enforcement of existing federal gun laws, and an estimated 72,000 Americans have been murdered with guns. In 2011, for the first time in over a decade, more police officers were shot to death in the line of duty than were killed in automobile accidents. The need for leadership at the ATF has never been more urgent. The time has come for you to make a recess appointment to fill the vacancy at the top of the ATF.
  • Prosecute prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines: The Justice Department should vigorously prosecute felons and other prohibited purchasers who fail gun background checks. In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred more than 71,000 such cases to ATF, but U.S. Attorneys ultimately prosecuted only 77 of them. Prosecuting these offenders is a goal broadly supported by our coalition and the National Rifle Association.  The Department should also develop a mechanism for sharing NICS denial information with local and state law enforcement officials by sending them active alerts; or, at a minimum, posting the information at the National Criminal Information Center so state and local law enforcement officials can access it during investigations.
  • Require federal agencies to report records to NICS:  The NICS Improvement Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to submit mental health, substance abuse and other records that prohibit a person from owning a gun to NICS. However, few agencies comply.  In October 2011, the FBI provided data to MAIG on reporting by 60 federal agencies.  Of those 60 agencies, 52 had given zero mental health records to NICS. Although total federal agency reporting of mental health records increased by ten percent between March and October 2011, to 143,579, the vast majority of those records had been submitted by one agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even fewer federal agencies are reporting drug abusers.  Only three agencies — the FBI, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the probation and parole services agency for the District of Columbia — have submitted any substance abuse records, and the vast majority of federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, have not submitted a single substance abuse record. The president should issue an executive order requiring all federal agency heads to certify twice annually, in writing, to the U.S. Attorney General that their agency has submitted all relevant records to NICS.
  • Repeal remaining Tiahrt restrictions:  While Mayors Against Illegal Guns and our law enforcement allies have made progress in relaxing the “Tiahrt restrictions,” which are riders to the federal budget that restrict access to federal gun data, some still remain. These remaining restrictions keep the public, particularly researchers and elected officials, in the dark about gun traffickers – specifically, who they are and how they operate.  It also requires the FBI to destroy records of approved NICS background checks within 24 hours. That makes it harder to detect law-breaking dealers who fake their records, or to identify straw buyers who undergo the checks on behalf of someone who couldn’t pass.  The Tiahrt Amendments also say ATF can’t require dealers to inspect their inventory, which could reduce the tens of thousands of guns that go missing or are stolen each year. Finally, the police and other law enforcement agencies that get trace data can’t use it in license revocation proceedings or in civil litigation. The administration should repeal these restrictions in its next budget.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

In addition to Mayor Wood, other Georgia mayors who signed it included, Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta; Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Augusta; Mayor William F. Floyd, Decatur; Mayor Donna Pittman, Doraville; Mayor Earnestine D. Pittman, East Point; Mayor James Thomas, Jr., Hinesville; Mayor Robert A. B. Reichert, Macon; Mayor June D. Bradfield, McRae; Mayor Kathie deNobriga, PineLake; Mayor Patricia Wheeler, Stone Mountain; and Mayor Ralph Moore, Union City.

What do you think of the coalition's recommendations? Tell us in the comments.

Jake Lilley December 21, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Mayor Wood is against guns? This is not really news...
Jake Lilley December 21, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Let me clarify....Mayor Wood is not against firearms, he is against YOU owning firearms. Why do I say this. It's simple. The types of firearms that Mayor Wood suggest we ban are the very same firearms that are issued to our Law Enforcement. In other words, in Mayor Wood's opinion, only those in power should have such firearms and the way to maintain power is to confiscate those same weapons from the general population. Evidence: 8.5 Million- Total number of deaths from homicide worldwide in the 20th century 203 Million- Total number of deaths caused by government actions in the 20th century. This includes war (34 mil) and genocide (169 mil). Result: A human living in the 20th century was over 23 times more likely to die as a direct result of the actions of a government than by the actions of a non-political person. Conclusion: The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing. The benefit of the second amendment is not that it guarantees your right to go recreational hunting but that it guarantees your right to protect yourself against tyrannical governments. The evidence shows you are far more likely to killed by a tyrannical government than a homicidal manic. Don’t let your government take away your right to protect yourself!
Jake Lilley December 21, 2012 at 06:47 PM
But shouldn't we confiscate guns to save the children? A study by the Children’s Defense Fund found that we lose some 2,800 children and teenagers to guns annually. Hard not to be for stricter laws and controls...right? While 2,800 is shocking and appalling statistic, an even more shocking and appalling statistic is 10 million or 3571 times 2,800. That is the number of Soviet Ukrainians who died as a result of the Holodomor. The Holodomor was the forced starvation in 1933 of the Ukrainian people implemented by the Soviet political elite in retribution for poor food output. Why couldn’t the large Ukrainian population defend themselves against such as monstrous policy? In 1929 the Soviet government implemented a gun ban; therefore, even though they greatly outnumbered the group implementing the policy, the Ukrainians didn’t have the resources available to them to protect themselves. As I’ve already mentioned, this resulted in the deaths of an estimated 10 million people (4 million due to starvation and 6 million due to birth defects attributed to the Holodomor).
Jake Lilley December 21, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Also disturbing is the number 300,000. That’s the number of Sudanese who have died in the Sudanese civil war starting in 2003. Over these years most fatalities have been the result of the intentional starvation of civilians. Again the question is - why haven’t the Sudanese people organized and defended their natural right to self-preservation? Again the answer can be found in the gun control laws of Sudan. The UN calls Sudan’s gun control laws “very restrictive.” In fact, you need to be above the age of 30, pass a physical examination, and obtain a certain socio-economic status prior to owning a firearm for the purpose of self-defense. In practice, very few Sudanese have access to weapons for their self-defense. For the sake of expediency, I won’t go into detail about other incidents where gun control laws preceded genocide of hundreds of thousands of people. However, there are many other examples. Such as Armenia (1915-1917) 1.5 million killed, China (1948-1952) 20 million killed, Uganda (1971-19790 300,000 killed, and Cambodia (1975-1979) 2 million killed. One of the traits of our human condition is when tend to disparage the collective lessons we’ve learned throughout history in order to address the most recent events. History is riddled with examples of people forfeiting their natural right of self-defense to political entities resulting in those people losing their lives.
Bill December 22, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Thanks for all the good info Jake.
Dianne December 22, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Mayor Wood has been a member of NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Guns for at least three years. When I emailed his office at least three times over the past 2-3 years about this and asked for his response, I never did receive a response. The 2nd Amendment is very clear on the subject of citizens of the U.S. being able to own arms in order to protect themselves. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Yes, Sandy Hook Elementary School was horrifying and tragic. However, the young man who committed the murders, was mentally ill and on psychotropic drugs, which have been known to cause the type of behavior he had on that Friday at Sandy Hook. There are many factors that could have caused this young man to commit this sad tragedy, but our government is using this to attempt to take away our RIGHT to own a gun given to us by the U.S. Constitution.
Robert Kenney January 05, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Hope you don't mind if I re-post this comment?
Tim Bell January 06, 2013 at 05:26 PM
I am a Roswell citizen and I will do everything in my power to make sure this anti constitution liberal, anti second amendment liberal will not go back into office. Banning semi automatic weapons whether they 5 rounds or 100,000 round magazines is one more way and one more step toward confication of our self defense rights guaranteed by the constitution. Don't think so? England is now trying to ban chef's knives. They have banned guns so guess what....the lunitics that will be lunitics no matter what are killing other people with knives. If these idiots are going to kill people then they are going to find a way to do it and the stupid governments (there is not smart government in my opinion) will legislate and make illegal with whatever killing tool pops up. They only want to get re-elected. Protecting our rights are the least of what they want. Term limits and Jerry's term is hopefully over this time!!!
Jake Lilley January 11, 2013 at 04:23 PM
http://www.mayorwood.com/ (scroll down and click on "Second Amendment tab") 2009 Campaign: "I have asked my opponents to show me evidence MAIG has taken a position on firearms other than the right of states to control concealed weapons and access to their records, but they have failed to produce such evidence. When I receive such evidence I will withdraw form MAIG. I will not back down in response to threats and unsubstantiated claims." ~Mayor Jere Wood, Roswell GA http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/letter_121912.shtml 2013 Gun Ban Letter to Obama: "The time has come to review the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft a new law that is clear and enforceable and will take these weapons out of our communities." ~Mayor Jere Wood, Roswell GA
David January 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM
It is time to hold Mayor Wood accountable for the statements he made during his 2009 reelection campaign! Don't let him get away with this. He is a Charlatan! Call him at (678) 925-5424 or e-mail him at mayorwood@roswellgov.com and tell him that you oppose the federal gun ban and you will not support his reelection in 2013! Please share this post!

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