Park City mayor may join group against illegal guns
Hold your fire.
The Park City Council will wait until the Utah Legislature adjourns before discussing whether Mayor Dana Williams should join a national organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
It's a touchy subject in Utah, where the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would allow citizens to wear guns in public, and in Washington, D.C., where the National Rifle Association wields significant influence in the debate over gun control.
But Mayors Against Illegal Guns doesn't intend to go head-to-head with the NRA and emphasizes that it supports the Second Amendment right of citizens to own legally purchased firearms.
The organization was founded in 2006 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and 13 other mayors who wanted to "make progress in battling gun crime without getting bogged down in ideological debates," said Mark Glaze, the organization's director.
It lists as members some 600 mayors, and recently invited Williams to join its ranks. The Park City mayor would be the first Utah member.
The Park City Council will wait until mid- to late March to consider the organization's invitation, the mayor said. No date has been set for the discussion. The scheduling looks to be timed so as not to antagonize Utah lawmakers, who wrap up their annual legislative session on March 8.
"I don't see anything here that speaks against the Second Amendment," Williams said of the organization. "We're willing to take a look at it. Conspiracy theorists can jump to conclusions, but it seems there is something that can be done about illegal guns that fuel violence in our cities and the drug war in Mexico."
City Councilwoman Liza Simpson said Park City always seeks open discussions on such matters.
"We wanted to include the public in the dialogue, whether it's joining the friends of hot air balloonists or the Mayors Against Illegal Guns," she said. "But I can't imagine anyone who had taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state having a problem opposing illegal guns."
Among the goals of Mayors Against Illegal Guns is passing federal legislation called the "Fix Gun Checks Act," Glaze said. "It would repair our nation's broken gun background check system," he said, by requiring background checks on every gun sale. Presently, only about 40 percent of gun sales require them.
Private gun sales and many sales made at gun shows are not subject to background checks.
Second, Glaze said, the legislation would provide stronger incentives for state and federal agencies to list on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) individuals who are barred from owning guns.
"There is huge common ground with overwhelming public support for laws that keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them," he said.
Nonetheless, a spokesman for the NRA contended that Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a "gun-control organization."
"They never met a gun-control law they didn't like," said Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's director of public affairs.
"Anything to do with illegal trafficking is already illegal under existing law," he said. "Those laws need to be enforced. That's the NRA's position."