Together this core group of mayors agreed on the contents of a letter which was sent to President Obama and members of the United States Congress on Dec. 19, signed by a bipartisan coalition of over 700 mayors across the nation.
“I am extremely proud to have been part of the phone conference that assisted in bringing forth this very determined and focused letter to our country's leaders,” Fraser said. “Hopefully this, along with all of the other messages, will bring forth some positive change.”
The mayoral missive focuses on three issues at the Federal level: requiring every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check, making gun trafficking a federal crime, and getting high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off the streets. It also outlines a number of administrative steps that could be immediately taken to curb gun violence.
“As Mayors, we are duty-bound to do everything in our power to protect our residents, especially our children, from harm and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns,” the group asserted in a statement of principals it released last week.
The mayors will also provide written support to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to renew an expired ban on assault weapons at the opening of the next session of Congress.
“In the past few days, the American people came together in a national outpouring of grief and sympathy for the families of victims slain in the mass shooting in Newtown,” the mayors’ letter concludes. “We share in that grief. But our constituents are also outraged and looking for leadership from the White House. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to gun violence in our country.”
Fraser reported that in discussions last week, two of the issues he personally championed were incorporated into the mayors’ action plan: focusing on a limited number of attainable goals that will have a maximum impact, and planning a mass march on Washington in mid-January to coincide with an upcoming National Association of Mayors conference. The march would include police associations, mayors, children's associations, mental health associations, teachers and others.
Fraser is also considering introducing a new resolution pertaining to gun control in Telluride, that would likely reflect the contents of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ recent letter to the President and Congress.
Such action might be more symbolic than substantive at this point; Fraser acknowledged that gun control legislation must occur at the federal level in order to be effective. However, he said, at least it would provide a starting point for a conversation that must take place, challenging entrenched views among state and federal lawmakers on the topic.
“I have heard of some states such as Florida where at the state level, laws were put in place so that local municipalities could not put a gun control ordinance in place that is more restrictive than state law,” Fraser said. “The NRA has been highly successful in making sure their beliefs are reflected by politicians.”
However, Fraser maintained, those beliefs are not widely shared, even among members of the NRA. “There was a survey in Colorado that showed 90 percent of NRA members said background checks need to be more stringent,” he said. “But 40 percent of all gun sales continue to be done without a background check. To think that what we are doing is working would seem to be a faulty thought process. I just believe we have to start taking a stand and doing something. If we don’t make an impact at this point in time, the same type of situation will continue to occur.”
Samantha Wright at email@example.com or Tweet @iamsamwright