Published: Friday, April 13, 2007
Cincinnati mayor . joins push to curb illegal gun sales
Cincinnati police made 579 gun arrests last year and seized 1,486 guns.
CINCINNATI (AP) The mayor of Cincinnati, which set a record for homicides last year, joined a national coalition of city leaders Thursday seeking to curb illegal gun sales.
Mayor Mark Mallory was joined by several suburban mayors for a ceremonial signing with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
"Public safety is a regional issue that requires a united response," Mallory said. "Criminals do not recognize municipal boundaries, and we need to make sure that our efforts do not stop at our individual borders either."
More than 180 mayors across the country are members of the coalition, founded last year by Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
Cincinnati had 89 homicides last year, seven more than anytime since police began keeping consistent records in 1950. Mallory and Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens say most involved illegal drugs.
Cincinnati police say they made 579 gun arrests last year and seized 1,486 guns as part of its Project Disarm gun initiative.
"Keeping illegal guns off our streets has absolutely nothing to do with the Second Amendment or the rights of lawful gun owners," Bloomberg said. "It's about enforcing the law and cracking down on criminals."
Bloomberg used Thursday's ceremony to announce a national television and Internet campaign opposing the so-called Tiahrt Amendment, a rider added to congressional appropriations bills that Bloomberg said restricts cities' access to government information on illegal guns.
Bloomberg, a billionaire who founded the media company that bears his name, said he would provide initial funding for the campaign.
"The last time I was in a campaign, I think I spent $85 million," said Bloomberg, the biggest contributor to his two mayoral campaigns. "I don't have any idea what this one is going to cost, but we are seriously going out to raise money from others and I think we will be successful in having people want to contribute."
The National Rifle Association's lobbying arm says on its Web site that the amendment would protect gun owner privacy. But a rival gun group, the American Hunters & Shooters Association, has thrown its support behind the mayors.
"Gun owners are tired of being vilified," said AHSA President Ray Schoenke. "The NRA has hijacked our heritage."
Bloomberg said a national campaign is the only effective way to fight illegal gun sales.
"This is not a battle that can be waged within state lines," he said. "It is a national problem that affects all of us. Solving it requires local governments to work together to share information and to coordinate our strategy."
New York City has sued 27 gun dealers in various states, including Ohio, alleging they sold firearms illegally to undercover private investigators conducting a sting for the city. Officials say the dealers have supplied hundreds of weapons used in New York City crimes.
"Plain and simple, we are trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Bloomberg said. "Those criminals are killing our children and killing our police officers and it's just got to stop."
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