Patrick, Menino Push for Stronger Gun Laws
President Barack Obama, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino all promised renewed focus on the issue this week.
The president, governor and Boston mayor all spoke out about gun control this week, promising to push for stronger regulation in the wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting that left 28 people dead.
On Tuesday, while outlining his proposals for the 2013-14 state legislative session, Mayor Thomas Menino said public safety remains an important focus for the city. Included in his legislative initiatives is an act that would establish a gun offender registry in the commonwealth.
Menino, who serves as co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said the group’s push for new legislation was “about making our streets safer.”
On Wednesday, Governor Deval Patrick filed new legislation designed to strengthen gun control by enhancing background checks for individuals seeking gun licenses, requiring gun purchasers to undergo background checks at gun shows and reducing access to high-powered rounds of ammunition, among other changes.
“I am encouraged by the palpable consensus in our Legislature that the time for action is now," Patrick said in an official statement about the proposal. "All of us must pull in the same direction to bring about real change in this state and across the country.”
Also on Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden held a press event announcing plans to reduce gun violence nationwide through a series of executive orders and a renewed push for legislative action.
Responding to the plan, Menino commended Obama and Biden on their “leadership and courage” and echoed the president’s call to Congress.
“In nearly 20 years as Boston’s mayor, I have watched with frustration as our government has been bullied by special interests and ignored its duty to protect our citizens from gun violence. At long last, President Obama’s historic proposal brings Washington in line with the needs of our nation, our families – and, most importantly, our children and grandchildren, who look to us believing that our streets and schools, playgrounds and movie theaters, should be places of safety and joy, not conflict and mass murder,” Menino said in a statement.
The Obama Administration's plan features 23 executive actions, including:
• Improving the federal background check system by removing barriers to information and encouraging federal and state agencies to cooperate more in sharing important information for background checks;
• Launching a national campaign on safe and responsible gun ownership; reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes;
• Providing law enforcement, first responders and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations;
• Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers;
• Clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover; and other items.
The plan is the result of a month-long task force led by the vice president.
“We can't put this off any longer,” Obama said Wednesday, mentioning the more than 900 Americans who have died from gun violence in the past month.
“So I’m putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe’s task force. And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said. “Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.”
The president also said he plans to push Congress to restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun and to “get tougher” on people who buy guns and sell them to criminals.