FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CHICAGO MAYOR DALEY KICK-OFF FIRST MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS COALITION REGIONAL STAFF CONFERENCE
Chicago Hosts First Regional Conference of Senior City Officials from Around the Midwest to Share Best Practices in the Fight Against Illegal Guns
Boston and Atlanta Set to Host Regional Staff Conferences Later This Fall
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley today kicked off the first Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition Regional Staff Conference which will convene senior city officials from 22 cities around the Midwest tomorrow morning to discuss the national fight against illegal guns. The regional conferences were announced earlier this month in Boston when Mayor Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced the expansion of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition - of which Mayor Daley is a member - to 109 mayors in 44 states across the country. Tomorrow's meeting of regional city officials is designed to improve inter-city coordination and share information to develop successful strategies in the fight against illegal guns. The daylong conference will include a presentation by a panel of experts on the problem of illegal guns followed by a discussion of law enforcement initiatives, the use of emerging technologies, the impact of pending federal legislation and federal and state lobbying strategies. Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Daley were joined today by Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mayor Tom Barrett, Tulsa, Oklahoma Mayor Kathy Taylor, Rockford, Illinois Mayor Lawrence Morrisey, Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline, Chaska, Minnesota Police Chief Scott Knight, New York City Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and a number of Chicago-area elected officials for the announcement at Chicago's Police Headquarters in the Bronzeville section of the city's Southside.
"Across America, cities large and small face the same challenge: keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals," said Mayor Bloomberg. "As mayors we have a responsibility to protect the people who live in and visit our cities. With more than 100 mayors across our country standing together, and working together, we're sending a message to Congress that we won't be silent on this issue. When Washington makes bad decisions to protect criminals rather than the public, we suffer the consequences. These regional conferences will help cities take their destiny into their own hands by sharing critical information on how to combat illegal guns and better protect the public. Together, we're saying 'enough is enough' - illegal guns don't belong on our streets."
"We mayors are united in this effort to protect our residents from illegal guns and the death and devastation they can cause," said Mayor Daley. "Chicago has been a leader for many years in the fight against illegal guns, and we welcome the opportunity to share some of our successes with other city officials. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will be a counter-weight to the pro-gun organizations that have had a disproportionate influence on federal policy. If the members of Congress would listen to their own constituents, instead of the gun lobby, they'd discover that a large majority favor common-sense gun legislation."
Tomorrow's meeting will include senior city officials from the following cities:
During the daylong regional conference, participants will discuss and share strategies in the fight against illegal guns. That discussion will include successful law enforcement initiatives and innovative technologies currently being deployed by the Chicago and Chaska, Minnesota police departments and prosecutorial strategies being utilized by the Milwaukee District Attorney's Office. Meeting participants will also hear from gun violence experts including Dr. Daniel Webster from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. David Hemenway from Harvard University and Dr. Tracey Meares from the University of Chicago. Participants will also receive a legislative briefing on pending federal legislation and discuss ways to effectively lobby both state and federal legislators.
Later this fall, similar regional staff conferences will also be held in Atlanta and Boston. On November 9th, Mayor Menino will host a regional staff conference in Boston and Mayor Shirley Franklin will host a group in Atlanta on November 30th. A regional staff conference is also planned for the West Coast later this year. Each of these sessions is designed to lead into the January 2007 Mayors Against Illegal Guns Summit which will kick-off the coalition's first full calendar year of work together - and the first-ever coordinated, national effort to convince Congress to take ideology out of law enforcement.
Each mayor in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition signed the Statement of Principles created during the first Mayors' Summit on Illegal Guns held in April 2006 in New York City. The Statement of Principles outlines a commitment to increase enforcement of gun laws; increase penalties for criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns; oppose federal efforts to restrict cities' right to access, use, and share trace data; develop technologies that aid in the detection and tracing of illegal guns; support local, state, and federal legislation that targets illegal guns; share information and best practices to coordinate legislative, enforcement, and litigation strategies; and continue to expand the effort to other cities across the country.
Mayor Bloomberg tonight will also accept the Abraham Lincoln Award from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICAHV) for "for his outstanding work to reduce gun violence" at a dinner at the Hotel Intercontinental Chicago. The 24th Annual Dinner honors individuals who, through their dedication and actions, have shown courage to effect change on gun violence prevention issues. According to ICAHV, honorees share a vision of reducing death and injuries caused by gun violence, and have helped achieve that vision through their outstanding efforts. ICAHV is recognizing Mayor Bloomberg for being "instrumental in working to crack down on illegal gun trafficking and bringing mayors from around the country together to work on this and other issues."
Mayor Bloomberg's Illegal Gun Agenda
Mayor Bloomberg has made stopping the flow of illegal guns an important priority in his second term. To that end, he is using a comprehensive three-pronged strategy: tougher enforcement, new legislation and innovative litigation to combat illegal guns. In New York City, gun arrests are up 14% this year.
In July, the Mayor signed four bills into law that include tough new measures that will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals; prevent under-the-table sales and require those convicted of a gun crime to check in with the NYPD after they have been released from prison; and ban real guns from being painted to look like toy guns.
In June, at the Mayor's urging, the State Legislature passed a bill increasing the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun to 3 ½ years, and eliminated the loophole that allowed judges far too much discretion in sentencing - changes the Mayor had called for in his State of the City Address last January. Other enforcement efforts include creating specialized Gun Courts, which have resulted in longer sentences for gun offenders, working to introduce gun shot detection cameras that will discourage the use and possession of illegal guns, and establishing a "debriefing" protocol for every felony gun defendant, which is helping law enforcement agencies learn more about the illegal gun markets. Mayor Bloomberg, alongside other mayors, is also fighting federal legislation that would protect irresponsible gun dealers by limiting access to trace data and barring its introduction in civil suits, preventing law enforcement agencies from holding gun dealers fully accountable. The mayors have also opposed legislation that would make it harder for the ATF to revoke the licenses of rogue dealers.
In May, the Mayor announced that the City was filing suit in federal court against 15 gun dealers in five states who sold guns in violation of federal and state statutes. To date, five of those dealers - one-third of the total - have agreed to settlements with the City which includes the court appointment of a Special Master to monitor the dealers and require them to submit to enhanced training. The Special Master will have broad powers to monitor the gun dealers, including unlimited review of firearms-related records, which include trace requests and multiple handgun sale reports, as well as the ability to conduct unrestricted inspections of all firearm inventories. The 15 dealers were targeted primarily because of the large number of New York City crime guns that were traced back to them. Based only on the incomplete data currently available to the City due to federal restrictions, more than 500 crime guns recovered in New York City were traced to these 15 gun dealers between 1994 and 2001.
Mayor Daley's Illegal Gun Agenda
The City of Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. City ordinance prohibits the private ownership of handguns unless they were registered with the City prior to March 30, 1982. Under Mayor Daley, Chicago has led the nation in the confiscation of handguns, seizing and destroying an average of more than 10,000 a year. So far this year, Chicago Police have confiscated 10,803. Within the last two years, the City has installed 215 gunshot-detection cameras near crime hot spots and open-air drug markets, and will install 100 more next year. The cameras can be controlled from a remote location and feature directional software that helps pinpoint the street location of a crime.
Mayor Daley has also spearheaded a joint program between the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office aimed at armed career criminals. Known as Project Safe Neighborhoods, it seeks to prosecute repeat gun offenders in the federal courts, which impose tougher sentences than state courts. At Mayor Daley's strong urging, the Illinois General Assembly last year approved legislation closing a loophole that had allowed people to avoid federal background checks by buying guns at gun shows. The legislature also passed Daley-backed bills increasing prison sentences for armed habitual criminals and for unlawful use of weapons. Mayor Daley also is pressing for state legislation to ban assault weapons and .50-caliber firearms; require gun dealers to be licensed by the state; limit handgun purchases to one a month; and require guns to have trigger locks or be placed in locked containers if there are children under 18 in the home.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Jacquelyn Heard/Lance Lewis (Chicago) (312) 744-3334
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