Mayors from 45 states have joined forces to push for stricter gun laws. Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith is one of 900 members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Smith told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that the group wants to require background checks for all weapons purchases and ban assault weapons.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is working to affect federal legislation for stricter gun control laws. “Today we were working on Senate bill 649 which requires any purchaser of a weapon have a background check and that could be criminal or maybe even mental health. So we were on the phones today lobbying our congressional representatives in all those 45 states,” Smith said. “About 40 congressional districts in 20 states, we have a clear majority from some recent polling the mayors have done so we think we’re on the right side of the issue in this regard.”
Smith said he and others in the organization aren’t trying to infringe on people’s Second Amendment rights, but he’s pushing for a ban on assault weapons and reducing high capacity magazines on certain guns. While the assault weapons ban hasn’t gotten overwhelming support from federal lawmakers, Smith said the 900 mayors will be keeping the pressure on to get change.
The National Rifle Association opposes the assault weapons ban and announced today its recommendation that trained and armed security guards should be placed in every school in the U.S. Smith said if there is any armed personnel in schools it should be police officers.
“Trained law enforcement officers in schools would be the safest for everybody. But we’ll see what this entails,” Smith said. “Seventy-four percent of NRA members think we’re right about this stuff.”
Illegal weapons are a problem throughout the country. Background checks are critically important so guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, according to Smith. “We don’t want to infringe on people’s right to go hunting or own a weapon, but we do want to make sure that weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands,” he said.
Gun buybacks are meant to get guns off the streets, whether they are legal or illegal. Smith said buybacks help curb deaths because “if you have a gun in the house and there’s a domestic dispute, a lot of fatalities happen in that kind of instance.”
Smith said Irvington has seen a reduction in gun violence, which he attributes to good police work, adding the city can be a model for others.
“It’s been aggressive police leadership and aggressive police strategy. We just hired an additional 19 cops that are going into the academy. We see our reduction based on our enhanced policing and doing some good things. Our violent crime is significantly down in the city over the last three years,” Smith said. “It’s been a trend that continues and so we hope that that’s going to continue.”