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Monday, September 26, 2022

Mayors of major cities, outraged by the prevalence of mass shootings, are concerned that sweeping gun control measures are unattainable

The mayors were given a brochure titled “Mass Shooting Protocol” as they poured into the meeting room. The pamphlet featured helpful hints on collaborating with the police, setting up family reunification centres, and arranging vigils. In the pamphlet, it was recommended that just a single social media account be used for posting updates. Immediately establish a bank account for monetary contributions. Family members of victims should not be allowed to speak with the media.

During a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors that took place over the weekend in Reno, Nevada, mayors discussed the reality that preparing for mass shootings has become an expected part of leading an American city with a mixture of anger, fear, and a matter-of-fact resignation. Reno is located in the state of Nevada.

The gathering, which took place in a nation still reeling from the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, brought to light a paradoxical aspect of the American mayoralty: When there is widespread violence, it is the responsibility of the city’s mayors to communicate the tragic information, comfort the citizens of their communities, and address inquiries about how the shooter might have been prevented. However, mayors of large cities often have authority over police departments and social service programmes, both of which can help prevent gun violence. However, these mayors say they are largely powerless to enact the gun control measures that many of them say are necessary to prevent more tragedies. This is despite the fact that these departments and programmes can help prevent gun violence.

Over the course of the weekend, there were other incidents of mass shootings, the most of which received little notice on a national level. At a graduation celebration held close to Summerton, South Carolina, nine individuals were shot, including one person who was killed. Three individuals were murdered and 11 others were injured in the attack in Philadelphia. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a gunshot that included 14 people resulted in the deaths of two people, while a third victim was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Interviews with mayors of large cities in Reno revealed more exasperation than optimism about a legislative breakthrough, even as Vice President Biden called for new gun control measures and as a group of senators from both parties negotiated possible changes to federal law.

A ban on certain types of firearms, which Mr. Biden and a number of the mayors advocated for, was seen as a political nonstarter in Washington. Even seemingly small actions, such as increasing background checks, raising the minimum age to acquire certain types of firearms, or implementing regulations known as “red flag laws,” seemed to be impossible to achieve. Some people expressed optimism that some form of agreement might be reached, but many mayors said that there had just been one too many instances in the past in which indignation had been met with apathy.

Many of the Democratic mayors of America’s largest cities have long advocated for stricter gun control laws, which they claim is necessary to address both the kind of routine street violence that claims the lives of thousands of people in the United States every year and mass shootings. However, not all of America’s largest cities are led by Democrats. Republicans in state capitals and in Congress have frequently placed the blame for violence in their cities on Democratic mayors.

Mayor Jeffrey J. Mims Jr. of Dayton, Ohio, said that he had hoped that a tragedy would result in positive change before it occurred. In 2019, when he was serving as a city commissioner, he assisted families who were being alerted that members of their family had been among the nine people who had been murdered and 17 people who had been wounded in a shooting that occurred in an entertainment area. Residents of Dayton chanted “Do something!” at Republican Governor Mike DeWine at a vigil that took place shortly after the incident.

As a result of a court that is suspicious of reducing gun rights and the inability to compel change in Congress or in state legislatures that are dominated by the Republican party, mayors have been forced to look for alternative methods to reduce the amount of violence in their cities. The city of Austin, Texas, has hired mental health personnel to react to emergency situations using funds that was originally intended for empty police posts. The city of Cincinnati increased its collaboration with federal law enforcement agencies on firearms cases. A lawsuit was filed against a gun manufacturer in Kansas City, Missouri, whose licence was subsequently cancelled by federal authorities.

Democrat Kim Norton, the mayor of Rochester, Minnesota, said she wished the State Legislature, where Republicans control one chamber, would at least allow her to enact municipal gun restrictions, such as banning weapons at the library or creating a multiweek waiting period to purchase a gun. In her former role as a state lawmaker, Kim Norton unsuccessfully pushed for gun control bills. She said she wished the legislature would at least allow her to enact municipal gun restrictions.

Republicans who are opposed to further gun control sometimes refer to locations like Illinois as proof that additional limits won’t materially decrease murder. Illinois is one of several states with severe gun regulations, yet the state nevertheless has a high rate of killings. A significant number of them have advocated, as an alternative, for more financing for mental health services, increased money for police enforcement, and increased school safety measures. The Democrats argue that they are ignoring the bigger picture.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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