80th Annual Meeting

WHEREAS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is an effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals, and this system has blocked 1.9 million illegal gun purchases and permit applications in the past two decades; and

WHEREAS, despite this success, the system is undermined by legal loopholes and missing records that enable too many dangerous individuals to obtain weapons they later use in crimes; and

WHEREAS, it is estimated that state and federal agencies have failed to report more than one million records of persons with dangerous mental illness into the NICS database; and

WHEREAS, under federal law licensed gun dealers are mandated to conduct NICS checks before proceeding with a sale, but in most states this requirement does not apply to so-called private sellers who are present in large numbers at gun shows and sell guns over the internet; and

WHEREAS, it is estimated that private transactions account for 40 percent of U.S. gun sales, and undercover investigations have shown that many private sellers at gun shows and online will proceed with sales even when they are made aware that prospective purchasers cannot pass a background check; and

WHEREAS, more than 12,000 Americans are murdered with guns every year, and the overwhelming majority of these crimes are committed by individuals who are barred from purchasing or possessing guns under federal law; and

WHEREAS, on April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech with guns that were legally purchased because records of his mental health status were missing from NICS; and

WHEREAS, in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, Virginia and other states have submitted hundreds of thousands of new mental health records since the massacre, yet 23 states and the District of Columbia have each submitted fewer than 100 mental health records; and

WHEREAS, tragedies including the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, the 2010 attack on law enforcement at the Pentagon, and the 2012 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh psychiatric clinic were perpetrated by individuals who obtained guns through unregulated private sales, with no paperwork required and no questions asked; and

WHEREAS, the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2012 has been introduced in the U.S. Congress, and this legislation would address the two major flaws in the nationís gun background check system by improving compliance with federal record reporting requirements, and by requiring background checks for all U.S. gun sales; and

WHEREAS, 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in the gun background check database, and 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support background checks for all gun sales; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has been a strong advocate for common-sense policies that keep guns out of dangerous hands while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and this Conference has long called for actions to close deadly gaps in NICS; and

WHEREAS, more than 50 national organizations support closing gaps in the gun background check database and requiring a background check for all gun sales, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and

WHEREAS, the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2012 is strongly supported by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national, bipartisan coalition of more than 650 mayors, who represent more than 50 million Americans;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges passage of this important public safety legislation in the Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will work to push for increased reporting of mental health and other relevant records into the NICS database; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will join with domestic violence prevention advocates, faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and other elected officials to make clear that failure to strengthen gun laws at the national level will continue to fuel gun trafficking and gun violence in big cities and small towns throughout the country.