Mayor Jim Suttle called on Congress to approve universal background checks for gun purchases Thursday, joining a coalition of U.S. mayors who support stricter gun control measures.
“Washington needs to hear, and hear loud and clear, from the people they represent that they want an end to gun violence,” Suttle said alongside a handful of north Omaha community leaders. “And the steps need to start right now, one by one by one.”
Suttle's comments came as part of his involvement with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. Led in part by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the group of 900 mayors wants to deter illegal firearms and push the federal government to broaden gun control laws.
“It's time to stop the tears, it's time to stop the pain, it's time to stop the suffering that's going on,” Suttle said.
“It's time to take a bold move. The country is behind this, now we need the United States Congress to be behind this.”
Pending Senate legislation would expand background checks and bolster gun trafficking penalties, though it's not clear whether such a measure will gain approval. A proposed assault weapons ban, already injected by Suttle into the city's mayoral race, appears to lack enough support to pass.
The mayor and four community representatives still stressed their support for such a measure.
“We're tired of looking over short caskets,” said the Rev. Gregory Ashley, pastor of St. John Baptist Church. “We're tired of having to bury our young people. We're tired of even our police officers having to face assault weapons when they're trying to make our community safe.”
Suttle said communities need to determine the dividing line between Second Amendment rights for “civilian” weapons and “military weapons, which have only one purpose — that is to kill.”
“I firmly believe that you and I have Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Suttle said. “But our children have the right to go to school and not face someone with an automatic weapon. And our family members have the right to go to theaters and shopping malls and walk the streets with their dogs to the corner drugstore or the park safely.”
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