Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti mayors support assault weapons ban, stricter gun laws
Stricter gun laws and an assault weapons ban would make the nation —including Washtenaw County— much safer, according to Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.
Schreiber, Hieftje, and more than 850 mayors across the country, have signed two letters drafted by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition in support of stricter gun regulation.
Schreiber and Hieftje said neither of them are against citizens having guns, but assault weapons are not needed.
"I grew up in a shooting family and was hunting deer with my father when I was 14," Hieftje said. " I continue to shoot clay pigeons and enjoy it. I'm not anti-gun, but I certainly do not understand why anyone needs an assault weapon."
Schreiber said access to guns shouldn't be as easy as it is now and background checks must be enforced.
"I think it will help Ypsilanti and would help every city," Schreiber said. "I can’t speak of any specific instance, but if you have fewer guns available, you're going to have a safer city and a safer country."
The two letters were sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev), Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), and Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Feb. 11.
One of the letters calls on Congress to support the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
The bill would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Exceptions would be made for law enforcement and military use, as well as weapons lawfully owned at the time of the bill being enacted.
"Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines have been at the center of some of our country’s deadliest mass shootings," the coalition wrote. "Just since July, we have watched in horror as they have been used to gun down moviegoers in an Aurora theater, Sikh worshippers in an Oak Creek temple, and even young children in a Newtown elementary school."
"In order to prevent the next rampage and help save American lives, our nation needs clear and enforceable legislation that will take these weapons and magazines off our streets."
The letter states that while military-style assault weapons are used in mass shootings, they're also a common threat in every day incidents of gun violence.
The second letter supports making gun trafficking a crime as part of a larger legislative package to reduce gun violence.
The coalition is seeking the passage of legislation that would criminalize gun trafficking.
"We believe that this policy recommendation, along with legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales, would go a long way toward reducing gun violence," the coalition wrote.
Schreiber said he's certain there would be differing opinions on the matter, but something needs to happen.
"A lot of people I talk to feel we need to have stricter laws to be able to acquire a gun," Schreiber said. " It's not going to stop all gun violence, but it's a step in the right direction."
Hieftje said the goal of the letters were to help Washington leaders understand that the decisions they make matter. Locally, Hieftje said his support of the two letters signals him "standing up for law enforcement."
"Our police officers have to be prepared to go into situations where a perpetrator may have large clips or magazines and can overpower police and fire power," Hieftje said.
Tuesday, Schreiber plans to bring forth a resolution asking the city council to support stricter weapons laws and regulations. The resolution would be sent to U.S Rep. John Dingell, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
If the resolution passes in Ypsilanti, Hieftje said the Ann Arbor City Council would then get a copy and he "wouldn't be surprised" if they decide to take the issue up as well.
"These are federal issues," Schreiber said."To me, it needs to be a change in the federal law. It's something I think is a national issue, but all politics start local and we should have a discussion locally because it's the right thing to do."
Read the letters here: