Press Release


For Immediate Release
August 13, 1999

Contacts:

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

MAYOR WEBB ASKS MAYORS, POLICE CHIEFS TO CONVERGE ON WASHINGTON; HEAD OF USCM ALSO ASKS NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES TO ENCOURAGE NATIONWIDE PRAYER VIGIL

DENVER –- Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb, who also serves as the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), today called on hundreds of Mayors and Police Chiefs from throughout the nation to converge on Washington Thursday, September 9, 1999 to urge their local congresspersons to support responsible and effective gun control legislation. On the same day, the Mayor is asking the National Council of Churches to encourage its membership to organize a national one-hour noon-time prayer vigil in communities throughout the nation to pray for victims of gun violence and to pray for Congress to listen to the wishes of the American public.

The leadership of the USCM had been planning a White House event to discuss gun legislation with President Clinton and then meeting with members of Congress to encourage the passage of the legislation. Following the senseless shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish community center yesterday, Mayor Webb felt compelled to expand the lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to include Mayors and police chiefs.

In May, as part of its consideration of juvenile crime legislation, the Senate passed several measures that would close certain loopholes in current law that facilitates juvenile access to guns. The USCM supports key provisions of the Senate bill, including:

  • requiring background checks to be conducted at all gun show events prior to approving gun sales,
  • closing loopholes that permit importation of high-capacity ammunition clips and allow teens to legally possess assault weapons, and
  • requiring that child safety locks be sold with handguns.

Congress went on their month-long summer recess this week despite the urging of some members of to forgo their vacation until the legislation was passed – before the start of the school year. A Senate/House conference committee is expected to begin work on compromise legislation upon their return but the House leadership has all but ruled out the component that would require background checks at gun shows – a major loophole for criminals wanting purchase firearms. Currently licensed gun dealers must run background checks at stores or shows but the law does not apply to more informal vendors at shows. The Senate’s version requires checks for all gun show sales and allows three business days for the background work to be completed.

"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," Mayor Webb said.

"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."

"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.

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