2011-01-21 / Top Stories

Bloomberg: Nation’s Gun Laws Are ‘Broken’

In his weekly radio show this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the spokesperson for Mayors Against Guns, said that the nation’s gun laws are “broken,” and called for new controls on weapons and ammunition in the wake of the tragic shootings in Arizona.

“For many of us in New York City, the news that a terrible shooting rampage in Arizona left six dead and 14 injured, including a congresswoman, brought us back to July 23, 2003. On that day, New York City Councilman James Davis was murdered by a political opponent - someone whose history of psychiatric problems should have legally prevented him from buying a gun. But it didn’t. And the more the investigation into the Tucson shootings tells us, the more it becomes clear that this was yet another example of the terrible damage that happens when the federal background check system fails to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous and deranged people.

“The reality is that every single day, 34 Americans are murdered by someone firing a gun - a gun that’s often purchased or owned illegally. That means that, on a daily basis, we experience a massacre larger than the one at Virginia Tech. And even though the shootings at Virginia Tech and Tucson happened nearly four years and two thousand miles apart from one another; they both underscore systematic failures in the way that guns are sold in this country.

“Drug abusers and addicts are prohibited by law from buying a gun - although that didn’t stop the Tucson murderer from walking out of a dealer in November with a semi-automatic handgun. By many definitions, he was a drug abuser - a self-admitted chronic user who had been arrested on a drugrelated charge. In fact, the U.S. Army rejected his application to enlist because of this very fact. The Army has a lifetime ban if you fail a drug test. So does the NYPD. But under the current flawed rules, people with a history of drug abuse are prohibited from purchasing guns only for one year,” the mayor said.

“It’s not clear if any of the shooter’s history with drugs fell within that oneyear time frame. But what is obvious is that we cannot ignore these red flags - and that looking at one-year’s worth of drug abuse is not enough. The federal government should be considering the greater history of every potential buyer - and federal agencies should do a better job of sharing information and notifying the background check system when it becomes aware of any failed drug test, or otherwise identifies a drug abuser.

“These are just some of the steps that Washington must take to help fix our broken gun laws. But there are many more - and over the past five years, I’ve helped build a bi-partisan coalition of over 500 mayors to push for such reforms.

“Our mayors represent every region of the country, and are of all different political stripes - but we all agree on one thing: This issue isn’t an ideological battle, and it’s not about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about enforcing the law and maintaining public safety. Too many innocent lives are at stake - the lives of our families, and our children, and all Americans.”

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