By Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty joined counterparts from New York, Boston and more than 50 other cities yesterday in demanding federal help to halt the trafficking of illegal guns.
Fenty (D), speaking at a news conference held by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, said local laws are not sufficient to fight the use of illegal weapons.
"We have one of the highest homicide rates in the country but at the same time have the strictest [gun] law," Fenty said, joining other urban chief executives at the bipartisan summit on the issue yesterday on Capitol Hill. "Local jurisdictions just can't solve the problem. You need to have the federal government have one standard for dealing with illegal guns."
The summit was held before the opening today of a three-day meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Fenty said that most homicide cases in the District involve illegal guns and that many illegal firearms come from surrounding jurisdictions. Of 169 homicides in the District last year, Fenty said, 137 involved illegal firearms.
Fenty's participation in the event came after the death of Taleshia Ford, 17, who was killed by a gunshot early Saturday at the Smarta/Broadway club on Ninth Street NW. Police have not made an arrest in the case, nor have they found the gun that was used.
Several mayors also told stories of killings involving youths. Manuel Diaz of Miami referred to a recent case in his city in which a child was killed. "Mayors are on the front line," Diaz said.
The mayors said their top priority is to fight legislation pushed by U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) that restricts public access to federal data that trace the possession of guns. They were joined yesterday by a congressional task force headed by Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.). The task force members vowed to help the mayors oppose the so-called Tiahrt amendment and other legislation that prevents cities and law enforcement authorities from tracking illegal guns.
At yesterday's summit, Fenty was surrounded by mayors he has consulted with in recent months as he prepared to take office, including New York's Michael R. Bloomberg (R), Boston's Thomas M. Menino (D) and Los Angeles's Antonio Villaraigosa (D).
Bloomberg hosted the first meeting of the mayors group, which was attended by then-D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), in April at Gracie Mansion. Bloomberg said the group is not anti-gun and does not oppose the constitutional right to bear arms.
"This is about getting guns out of the hands of criminals," Bloomberg said.