Mayor's group that includes Hickenlooper asks Obama to focus on fixing gun background check laws

By David O. Williams
Real AspenJanuary 25, 2011
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which lists as its only Colorado member former Denver mayor and current Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, is calling on Congress to strengthen and enforce background checks for purchasing a weapon. The group also is asking President Barack Obama to address gun control during his State of the Union speech tonight.

The group's co-chair, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spoke Monday along with relatives and friends of victims of shootings, including the Columbine High School massacre near Littleton, Colo., in 1999, the Virginia Tech rampage in 2007 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968.

It was after King's death that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, youths, drug abusers and the mentally ill. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act was passed to create a national database of people prohibited from buying handguns from licensed dealers.

The Brady Bill, named after former Reagan administration press secretary Jim Brady – shot and badly injured in the attempted assassination of the former president in 1981 – also requires a law enforcement background check before a gun can be legally purchased.

However, Bloomberg Monday said those laws don't work because states don't submit information on people who should be disqualified from purchasing weapons. He wants Congress to compel states to comply and to also require background checks for guns purchased at gun shows.

“The time has clearly come to fulfill the intent of the 1968 law and the Brady Bill by creating a genuine credible background check system for the sale of firearms,” Bloomberg said, according to the New York Times. Mayors Against Illegal Guns also announced the launch of a new website and gun-control advocacy push called Fix Gun Checks.

In the wake of the nearly fatal shooting earlier this month in Tucson of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in as assassination attempt that claimed the lives six people, including a federal judge and 9-year-old girl, the gun control debate has been rekindled. So has the discussion about more civil political discourse after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended her placement of crosshairs over Giffords's congressional district in a campaign ad last spring.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has called for a ban on the type of high-capacity magazines used by Giffords's alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, who legally purchased a Glock 9mm handgun despite a recent history of mental illness.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has proposed that members of Congress end the tradition of sitting divided by political party during the president's State of the Union speech tonight, and several members have agreed with his message of unity in the wake of the Giffords shooting. The entire Colorado delegation will sit together.

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