Press Release

For Immediate Release
July 30, 1999


Jubi Headley
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
(202) 861-6707
Andrew Hudson
Spokesman for Mayor Wellington E. Webb
Office: (303) 640-2722
Pager: (303) 640-0780


Statement by:
Wellington E. Webb
Mayor of Denver
President, The U.S. Conference of Mayors

"Yet again a tragic incident of gun violence has rocked the City of Atlanta. The nation's mayors grieve with Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and praise his continued leadership in this time of tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and all the people of Atlanta.

"As the elected leaders of the nation's cities, mayors know that public safety must always be our first concern. We have strived to increase public safety through innovative strategies such as community policing, which has shown dramatic results in reducing overall crime rates.

"Over the past year, the nation has been shocked by a spree of tragic shooting incidents which have left scores of children and adults dead or wounded, and all Americans concerned about the safety of their families, neighbors and community as a whole.

"But mayors have long seen, from personal experience, the tragedy that guns have brought to communities of all sizes and in all parts of the country. That is why for the past thirty years The United States Conference of Mayors has actively supported comprehensive efforts to reduce gun violence and the illegal trafficking of weapons.

"Statistics continue to show that gun-related crime and violence in America far outpaces all other industrialized nations. And while we recognize that many complicated factors contribute to these terrible statistics-which represent human lives lost-we know that one fact cannot be denied: too many guns are too easily available in America.

"In recent years, mayors have stepped up our efforts at the local, state and national level to making sure existing laws are enforced, and to enact meaningful and needed reforms to the gun laws.

"We are not talking about in any way limiting the ability of Americans to hunt or sports shoot. We are not talking about the right to self defense. What we are talking about is making guns safer for children and adults, and reducing the illegal trade of weapons on the secondary market, which so often results in weapons being used in crimes. What we are talking about is common sense. Why would any law abiding citizen need to purchase more than one handgun in a month - or two per month for a married couple? Why would we not want all guns to be sold with quality safety locks? Why would we not want all purchasers of firearms, including those at a gun show, to pass a background check?

"It is time for action. President Clinton understands this and is pushing for common-sense improvements to the nation's gun laws. Many members of Congress understand this, both Republicans and Democrats, and are supporting common-sense gun laws. But we fear that the Congress as a whole will continue to ignore the cries for action from the American people, cries we hear over and over again in our cities and towns.

"The U.S. Conference of Mayors dedicated its efforts over the past year to the issues of gun safety and school violence, and as President I have committed that we will re-double our efforts. Working closely with the Co-Chairs of our Gun Violence Task Force, Mayors Clarence Harmon of St. Louis and Joseph P. Ganim of Bridgeport, and the Chair of our School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00pm Task Force, Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton of Minneapolis, we will bring our message directly to Congress.

"The House and Senate will soon begin a conference committee to debate whether gun safety provisions which were adopted in the Senate will be approved, and sent to the President for his signature. We hope that these representatives of the American people will respond to the will of the nation, and support strong and meaningful gun safety reforms.

"But the nation's mayors will do more than hope. We will use all of our bi-partisan strength, in partnership with our local law enforcement leaders, to continue to demand the enactment of strong and common-sense reforms.

"We have heard from our citizens. They want action. Congress must respond."