FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, BOSTON MAYOR MENINO AND MAYORS FROM AROUND THE UNITED STATES STAND UP TOGETHER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS
Fifteen Mayors Join Together for First Ever Mayors' Summit on Illegal Guns
Mayors Create Statement of Principles on Illegal Guns Pledging to Build a Broader Coalition of Leaders Across the Nation
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today hosted the first-ever Mayors' Summit on Illegal Guns. The Summit, held in New York City at Gracie Mansion, brought together 15 mayors from around the country to discuss the problem of illegal guns and share strategies on how to combat it. The mayors discussed cutting-edge policing strategies, legislative opportunities and the unique initiatives being undertaken across the country on this issue. They also created a Statement of Principles (see attached) pledging to continue the fight against illegal guns, to continue the dialogue, and to build a broader coalition of leaders across the country. The mayors also pledged to initiate joint lobbying against harmful federal legislation, begin possible companion litigation against rogue gun dealers and set a second meeting before the year's end - with the goal of enlisting up to 50 mayors from around the country. Mayors Bloomberg and Menino were joined by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams and Yonkers Mayor Mayor Phil Amicone.
"New York City is America's safest big city and it's my responsibility to ensure that we do everything possible to make it even safer," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The fight against illegal guns is one that reaches beyond our borders and today's Summit opens the dialogue with leaders across this country who have made safety in their neighborhoods and on their streets a top priority. This is not a question of ideologies or a referendum on the Second Amendment. This is about public safety and making sure that illegal guns never make their way into the hands of criminals and onto our streets. Today, we shared our most innovative strategies for fighting illegal guns and we've created a plan to move forward to build the broadest coalition of leaders possible."
"It is my hope that today is the beginning of a dialogue, and more importantly, aggressive action to stop gun violence and get illegal guns off the street and out of the hands of our young people," said Boston Mayor Menino. "There is a crisis on the streets and in the neighborhoods of our nation, but the federal government is not helping us with a solution. In fact, they've made things worse by cutting our criminal justice funding."
"Gun crime is a national problem that needs a national response. I hope that today we launch our own campaign to get illegal guns off the street and stop gun violence. No city can solve this problem by acting alone. One of the biggest challenges is to figure out how we as Mayors can effectively work together - across geographic boundaries, across political parties - to forcefully fight this problem," said Mayor Menino.
To help fulfill the Statement of Principles the mayors signed and adopted, they identified a number of specific issues on which they could work together. This includes working with local law enforcement agencies and state representatives to maximize penalties for those who posses, use and traffic in illegal guns, as well as to work together to better share information and strategies for holding the worst gun dealers accountable for their actions. They also agreed to team up to oppose potentially damaging and limiting federal legislation, and continue sharing best practices and innovative policing and law enforcement strategies, including by creating a website to serve as a resource to all participating cities. The Mayors also pledged to meet again before the end of the year and set a goal of broadening the coalition to include up to a total of 50 mayors.
During the Summit, the mayors from Seattle, Dallas, Philadelphia and Milwaukee presented "best practices" from their cities, detailing innovative anti-gun violence initiatives that they have developed. These presentations offered an opportunity for the mayors to exchange ideas and discuss what strategies have been successful in curbing gun violence and what combination of practices may better suit different types of cities.
For example, Seattle has one of the lowest violent crime rates of any major city in the country, but 56% of Seattle's 25 homicides last year involved firearms. Seattle has undertaken an ongoing effort to assemble crime gun information to identify dealers engaged in illegal gun transactions and those who purchase guns and then transfer them illegally to convicted felons and other ineligible persons.
In the City of Dallas, the Dallas Police Department launched Operation Disruption - meant to rapidly deploy resources to different areas of the city, especially those areas known as hotspots for criminal activity, to "disrupt" the comfort level of criminal offenders. During the first six months of operation, from July to December 2005, the Unit accounted for more than 4,700 arrests, 6,500 traffic citations and the seizure of 349 firearms.
The mayors also had an opportunity to question a panel of national gun experts that included Dr. David Hemenway, an economist and professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, Joshua Horwitz, the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Daniel Webster, Co-Director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research and Associate Director for Research at the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The Summit also included a presentation from New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly who spoke on specific New York City Police Department initiatives including Operation Impact - a patrol-based initiative that saturates areas of the city where shootings and robberies are disproportionately higher with an influx of new, uniformed police officers teamed with veteran supervisors. The Commissioner spoke about new policing initiatives including the establishment of a Firearms Suppression Division that elevates the status of gun crime investigations to the same level as narcotics and major auto crime. Within this division the NYPD is also creating a Gun Enhancement Unit composed of detectives with expertise in this area to debrief suspects in all felony crimes involving guns, and generally to enhance these cases.
"The fact is that New York City remains a popular destination for illegal guns smuggled here by traffickers from out of state," said Commissioner Kelly. "Anything we can do to curtail this flow at a national level will be a huge benefit, which is why this summit is very good news. The New York City Police Department alone can't shut down the iron pipeline, nor can the police departments of the cities represented here today. We need a broad national commitment to do it. The same Federal government which asserts its supremacy in matters of interstate commerce needs to flex increased regulatory muscle when that commerce turns deadly."
The Police Commissioner also briefed the mayors on the new surveillance system deployed by the NYPD. The cameras, used by Borough Commanders to monitor crime "hot spots" are mounted on utility poles, easily visible to the public and moveable to other sites. Officers on patrol are able to monitor and manipulate certain cameras remotely with specially configured laptop computers installed in their cars. In addition to discussing new technology in the fight against illegal guns, Commissioner Kelly also spoke on how increased rewards to the public for information have resulted in 3,100 tips, 2,000 arrests and the seizure of 1,200 guns over the last four years.
The mayors were also briefed by Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo on the current status of New York City's litigation against gun manufacturers. They also received a briefing on current federal legislation and attempts to limit state and local government and law enforcement agency access to critical gun trace data. Mayor Bloomberg recently testified in Washington, DC on one of these bills - HR 5005 - which, if passed, would criminalize the sharing of this data between municipalities.
"Regrettably, we have seen too graphically the impact of guns and crime in our city," said Buffalo Mayor Brown. "While our Buffalo Police Department has recently conducted swift and successful investigations on gun-related violent crime, we must continue to do more and search for ways to eliminate illegal guns from the streets of Buffalo. I've looked forward to the opportunity to meet with mayors from across the United States at the Gun Summit to discuss methods and strategies for curbing the spread of illegal guns in our cities and innovative ways to provide greater safeguards for our law-abiding citizens."
"It is important for us to develop a strategy to tackle our illegal gun problem," said Dallas Mayor Miller. "It's a powerful message when you have many of the nation's top mayors joined together to create a statement this strong. There's not any legislature that's not interested in what these mayors have to say."
"This summit has provided innovative ways for mayors to formulate a strategic plan to help stem the flow of illegal guns onto city streets," said Hartford Mayor Perez "This will be an invaluable tool to add to Hartford's neighborhood policing plan."
"We have a crime problem in Jackson and it is driven mostly by two things - narcotics and weapons," said Jackson Mayor Melton. "We are dealing with it, but we also need cooperation in enforcing the laws on the books to the fullest extent possible. It's important to meet with and learn from my fellow Mayors from across the country about this very serious issue. I shared with them our unique approach in Jackson and how I believe it is our fiduciary responsibility to protect our citizens and break the cycle of violence in our communities."
"Eighty five percent of guns used in crimes committed in Jersey City come from out of state," said Jersey City Mayor Healy. "This a federal plague that requires a federal solution. Jersey City has thus far implemented a gun buy back program called Operation Lifesaver, which took 900 potentially dangerous weapons off of the streets here last year. The program was funded not by taxpayer dollars, but through donations from corporations, the local business community, and individuals. Additionally, we have hired more police officers, mobilized a gang unit, and are introducing legislation that upgrades penalties and fines for violent criminals."
"Combating gun violence has been a priority for me in my Administration," said Milwaukee Mayor Barrett. "I have worked closely with our Police Chief to establish a Homicide Review Commission to examine more closely the root causes of violent deaths in our city. As a result we have identified specific strategies to get illegal guns and the criminals who use them off the streets of Milwaukee. We get the calls when someone's mother or son or neighbor falls victim to gun violence. We must stand together and speak with one voice to stem the tide of illegal gun violence in our cities so that all our citizens can live safely in their neighborhoods."
"We need tougher gun laws for Philadelphia and we will fight for them," said Philadelphia Mayor Street. "Operation Safer Streets has four main components and furthers the City's unequivocal commitment to public safety. Those four parts are more focused policing, more engaged communities involved in crime prevention, better coordinated delivery of social services, and reduced availability of handguns. Philadelphia's violence reduction strategy includes these key themes. The Police Department cannot do this by itself. We will never abdicate our responsibility to our neighborhoods and communities. But we cannot do this alone. We need communities much more engaged."
"In Providence we've worked hard to reduce gun violence by instituting a highly effective community policing model, establishing a Gun Task Force, and by creating historic partnerships with community and religious leaders," said Providence Mayor Cicilline. "But we cannot do it alone, there are far too many guns on the streets and this is a problem plaguing cities and towns across America."
"Seattle has one of the lowest violent crime rates of any major city in the country, but half of our homicides last year involved firearms," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. "To combat violent gun crime, it is important to identify how guns end up in the hands of criminals. Cities are on the front lines of gun violence. But mayors are used to tackling difficult issues and I believe this summit can be a turning point in our local battles against crime guns."
"Our Police Department is engaged and vigilant in the streets," said Trenton Mayor Palmer. "We are following a comprehensive approach with regional crime interdiction and active gathering and sharing of criminal intelligence. At the same time, we are hard at work developing jobs and other assistance for ex-offenders who want to turn their lives around and coming up with appropriate social service interventions for youth who are truant from school. But the flow of guns into our city from Pennsylvania and other states - and the revolving door that gun offenders go through to quickly get back out on the streets - warrant concerted attention on the national level, in our legislatures, and through interstate collaborations such as this summit. Together, we can be effective in combating gun crime."
"Crime has no place in our City," said Tulsa Mayor Taylor. "The Tulsa Police Department has developed a plan consisting of immediate tactics and longer term strategies. I am anxious to learn how other cities have been successful in combating violent crime and to share what has been successful in Tulsa. Only by uniting across America can we solve the problem."
"Gun violence is a problem in too many American cities but meetings like this are a good way of both raising awareness and finding good solutions to common problems," said Washington, DC Mayor Williams. "I believe in what Mayor Bloomberg is trying to accomplish and I fully support this initiative."
"Illegal guns account for nearly 80 percent of the shootings in Yonkers every year," said Yonkers Mayor Amicone. "While we are aggressively pursuing ways to get these weapons off our streets, there's always more to do to keep pace with the criminals who endanger our residents. Forums designed to empower and equip us as mayors to make important public safety policies are a great resource. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership and for allowing us to share in some of the expertise of the NYPD."
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
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Statement of Principles (pdf)
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