Louisville Mayor on Ending Gun Violence
Kentucky is an urban community in a rural state, and Kentuckians share a
long history and belief in personal gun ownership. So, when I called
together a group of citizens earlier this year to develop an aggressive
strategy to end escalating gun violence in Louisville, critics said the
city would never be able to bring about change in a pro-NRA state.
the Kentucky General Assembly convening in January, I took steps this week
to turn up the heat in what promises to be a major challenge for local
Mayor's Task Force to End Gun Violence released its report following six
months of meetings and testimony that examined gun violence, its
contributing factors, current gun laws and options that could be
implemented to make Louisville a safer city.
Task Force is a diverse group comprised of top leaders in law enforcement,
education, government, the religious, medical and legal communities, civic
organizations, and gun merchants.
strategies that the Task Force has proposed are common sense approaches to
problems that confront the Louisville community.
the very moment I convened the first meeting of this Task Force, a 6-year
old boy was being treated in the critical care unit of a local hospital
after being shot in the face by his 11-year old brother. Just days before
a 17-year old girl shot an 11-year old child in a street corner dispute.
We don't need more tragedies to teach us. We need action. That's what our
report is intended to achieve.
some of the recommendations are requiring owners of guns to be licensed,
changing a state law which requires that police resell guns which are
confiscated in crimes, and regulating gun shows.
faces a unique challenge. Combating our Kentucky heritage and history in
an effort to make a change in Louisville is certain to be a formidable
task, but we are ready to take on the fight for local control. Wresting
our cities out of the grip of gun violence can most effectively be done at
the local level.
to the release of the report, we received an endorsement of the direction
we've charted when Vice President Al Gore informed us that Louisville has
been selected as one of 10 communities across the nation to form a
"Safe Cities Network" to reduce gun violence.
will share strategies, work with federal law enforcement and other
agencies, and have access to experts in gun violence reduction.
to Vice President Gore, Louisville was chosen from 30 applicants to
participate in this program, "because of our plans that balance
prevention, intervention, and enforcement."
are committed to measuring and achieving results.
of the actions proposed by the Task Force will require state legislative
action, but we are prepared to lobby for the support. We're an underdog in
the effort to change these laws, but the fight is a necessity if we're
going to bring about any change in what's taking place in our society.
Task Force will ask the Kentucky General Assembly to consider establishing
a Firearms Owner Identification system, which would require that, in order
to legally own and possess a firearm, a citizen would have to have a valid
Firearm Owners identification card.
requirements would have to be met to obtain the card and it would be
required to purchase any ammunition for firearms.
the Task Force's recommendation, a person under 21 years of age would be
able to obtain a card if he/she has written consent from a parent or legal
guardian and also would have to satisfy certain requirements. The parent
or guardian providing the consent must also hold a valid card.
I.D. system also would make the person who provided the consent legally
liable for any damages caused by the minor by the use of firearms or
ammunition. The concept was enthusiastically endorsed by the gun dealers
on our Task Force.
this system would establish accountability. I am not against gun
ownership, but I am for responsible ownership. This system would require
Task Force also will set out to repeal a state statute that mandates the
resale of confiscated weapons, something I believe should be a community's
statute was developed to generate revenue for police departments but this
is not appropriate for our community. It's our experience that these
weapons should be destroyed. They far too often are back in our evidence
room, having been used in another crime.
also will ask the General Assembly to amend state laws to be compatible
with federal restriction regarding possession of shotguns or machine guns.
We will seek tougher penalties for using a firearm in relation to any
violent crime and make it a Class
D felony for anyone to sell or barter a firearm to an underage person with
a known criminal record.
Task Force also wants state laws amended to clarify the requirements
necessary to prosecute parents and other adults who have allowed weapons
to be accessible to children.
shows will be another target, with the Task Force seeking mandatory
background checks for anyone who purchases a weapon at such shows.
want new legislation to enable us to more effectively regulate these
shows. Licensed dealers are
trying to do their part to make sure guns are sold to people legally
qualified to buy them. Some sellers, however, are not.
proposal will be the mandate of a firearms safety course for all
purchasers of firearms and the regulation of private firearms sales.
key component in the plan is improved enforcement. We discovered there are
many federal laws on the books that are not being utilized.
City will partner with the ATF, through the Safe Cities Network, to track
guns that are being used to commit crimes. In this regard, we will utilize
a Gunshot Wound Database program, developed by the University of
Louisville. By identifying guns used in crimes and tracing them to their
source, we can more effectively enforce existing statutes prohibiting
illegal gun sales and aid in the prosecution of crimes.
am confident that our actions can restore confidence in the safety of our
community and the quality of life our children will find in the future.
recommendations will require the support and participation of all
citizens, but I have made a pact with the people of Louisville that we
will work together to exhaust every possible option to reduce the number
of guns on the streets. Working together, we can make Louisville the
safest city in the nation.
endeavor is intended to change our mindset about weapons. That is what we
need to do in every city in America.