Mayors Against Illegal Guns Announces That Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ Hero Intern Daniel Hernandez Supports Its Plan to Fix Gun Checks and Will Visit New York City Hall on Wednesday

January 25, 2011

Members of Congress, Kennedy Family Members and Others Join Daniel Hernandez in Supporting Mayors’ Plan to Fix the National Gun Background Check System

Full Plan Available at www.FixGunChecks.org

NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced that Daniel Hernandez, the hero intern who first cared for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot, supports the mayors’ proposal to fix the national gun background check system. Mr. Hernandez will visit City Hall in New York and be congratulated by Mayor Bloomberg for his heroism. The coalition of over 550 mayors published an open letter to President Obama and Congress about the proposal in today’s Washington Post, on page A16. The open letter is available here: www.FixGunChecks.org/printad and the full plan is available at www.FixGunChecks.org.

“On the morning of January 8, the lives of an entire community changed,” said Daniel Hernandez. “The people of Tucson, Arizona, and the nation were turned upside-down by a barrage of bullets fired by a dangerous, disturbed man with a gun. From the moment those of us who were unharmed began helping the victims of the attack, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, it has been clear to me that much more must be done to prevent similar attacks in the future. It is my hope that President Obama and Congress will work together right away to reform our gun background check system so that all records of dangerous people are in the system and all gun buyers will have to pass a thorough background check. And that this be done in a way that does not infringe on Second Amendment rights, so that responsible citizens may exercise their right to bear arms.”

“Daniel Hernandez is right, we need to enforce the law both Houses of Congress unanimously passed in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting to put all the required records in the national gun background check system,” said coalition co-founder Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Despite the law, all the records are not in the system. The new Congress should set a goal of getting this job finished within three years. I look forward to working with the members of Congress and others who have endorsed our approach to finally fulfill the intent of the 1968 law.”

“Our coalition’s proposal is simple but would save thousands of lives,” said coalition co-founder Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “We have to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people by fixing our gun check system and assuring that it applies to every gun sale. But to accomplish that goal we need leadership at every level. I thank Senator Kerry for his leadership here in Massachusetts and urge President Obama in his speech on the State of the Union to stand up for the families and victims of gun violence every day.”

Below are statements of support for the www.FixGunChecks.org plan from:

  • Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
  • Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)
  • Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)
  • Tom Davis, former Republican Congressman from Virginia’s 11th District
  • Harold Ford, former Democratic Congressman from Tennessee’s 9th District and Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council
  • Richard Thornburgh, former Attorney General to Presidents Reagan and Bush
  • Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General to President George W. Bush
  • Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador to Ireland and sister of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy
  • Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of United States Senator Ted Kennedy
  • Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania Governor
  • Rep. Judy Chu, (D-CA)
  • Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
  • Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL)
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
  • Howard Dean, former Vermont Governor and former DNC Chairman
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson
  • Tom Mauser, father of Columbine shooting victim
  • Omar Samaha, brother of Virginia Tech shooting victim
  • Yoko Ono
  • Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • Jim Kolbe, former Republican Congressman from Arizona’s 8th district, the seat of Rep. Giffords
  • Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona
  • Grant Woods, former Attorney General of Arizona
  • Raul Grijalva, Congressman from Arizona’s 7th District
  • Terry Goddard, former Attorney General of Arizona
  • Dennis DeConcini, former Democratic U.S. Senator representing Arizona
  • Neil Giuliano, former Mayor of Tempe, Arizona

“There are some things we should all be able to agree on – and one of them is that rights always come with responsibilities, and that the mentally unstable shouldn’t be able to buy guns,” said Senator John Kerry. “Anyone that wants to purchase a gun in this country should be required to pass a simple background check. However, our patchwork of gun laws is rife with loopholes and too many dangerous people fall through the cracks.”

“If the tragedies in Tucson and Virginia Tech have shown us anything,” said New York Senator Charles Schumer, “it is that there are serious holes in the reporting of information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and they need to be addressed immediately. I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to pursue common sense gun ownership safeguards to protect our children and communities from those individuals, like the mentally ill and drug addicted, who should not have easy access to deadly weapons.”

“I commend Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership in working to eliminate horrible gun violence in our communities,” said New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I will continue to work with the Mayor, Police Commissioner Kelly, law enforcement officials and my Senate colleagues on a number of common sense, reasonable legislative proposals, including keeping the guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and closing loopholes to strengthen the NICS database.”

“I appreciate Tom Mauser, Martin Luther King III, and other important contributors who are working to identify shortcomings in existing federal efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,” said Colorado Senator Mark Udall. “When I served in the House of Representatives, I supported and voted for improvements to the National Instant Check System, but it still suffers from chronic underfunding and poor compliance by states and federal agencies. Sadly, Colorado knows firsthand how gun crime can impact our communities. I am constantly mindful of the tragedy at Columbine – as well as at Virginia Tech – where so many innocent people lost their lives as a result of a senseless act of violence. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the administration to better enforce existing laws and improve our ability to protect Americans from the kind of tragedy we witnessed in Tucson.”

“For seven terms in the United States House of Representatives, I fought for common sense laws that help protect the American people and respect our Second Amendment rights,” said Tom Davis, former Republican Congressman from Virginia’s 11th District. “In 2007, the massacre at Virginia Tech laid bare serious flaws in our nation’s gun laws, and I helped lead the charge in Congress to fix them by co-sponsoring the NICS Improvement Act. Now, nearly four years later, our country is facing yet another tragedy caused by a gun in the hands of someone federal law prohibits from possessing one. There is clearly much more we must do, and I applaud Mayors Against Illegal Guns for their sensible and comprehensive proposal for reforming our gun background checks.”

“I’ve always respected and supported the Second Amendment rights of responsible, law-abiding Americans to own guns,” said Harold Ford, chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and former Congressman from Tennessee’s 9th District. “I also firmly believe that there are too many murders, too many shootings, and too many guns in the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and drug abusers. Since the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, it’s been the law that felons, mentally ill, and drug abusers can’t possess guns – but our background check system too often fails. I support the efforts of the mayors’ to make the gun background check database complete and make the checks comprehensive.”

“I would be pleased to join in any effort to ensure an effective background check system so that every gun purchaser can be made subject to effective scrutiny,” said Richard Thornburgh, former United States Attorney General. “This was one of the recommendations of the three-day nationwide law enforcement summit held in Washington, DC in the spring of 1991, nearly twenty years ago, while I served as Attorney General of the United States in the administration of President George H. W. Bush. It is discouraging in the extreme that this need has not been met since. Common sense solutions such as those proposed by the mayors deserve widespread support.”

“We’ve learned from recent shootings that it is vital that the federal gun background check system have accurate and complete information on people prohibited from possessing firearms,” said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. “President Bush supported and Congress passed a piece of the necessary reform in 2007 after Virginia Tech, and it has had a significant impact by more than tripling the number of mental health records in the system. But it is clear, particularly after Tucson, that it was just one step on a longer path toward the effective and comprehensive background check system we need. I applaud America’s mayors for their efforts to build a better system.”

“Without exception, we line up at airports, often at tremendous inconvenience, willingly taking off our shoes, sweaters, and coats, and subjecting our belongings to search,” said Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. “We accept this in the spirit of cooperation and understanding that it is for our own protection. The same principle can and should be applied to background checks, which do not impose on our rights as individuals but merely add to our protection as U.S. citizens.”

“President Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, my uncle and my father, dedicated their lives to serving their country,” said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy. “But because of assassins armed with guns, they both made the ultimate sacrifice, and their lives of service were cut short. The 34 Americans whose lives are cut short by a gun each day may not be presidents or senators, but each life is a future cut short, a life of accomplishments left undone, and a family torn apart. We owe a duty to each victim to make their life, and their sacrifice, a part of the national movement to fix our gun background check system so it is thorough, complete and comprehensive.”

“I grieve with the families of all the victims of the senseless shooting in Tucson,” said Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of United States Senator Ted Kennedy. “I also mourn for the 34 Americans who are killed every day with guns. Surely we can come together, as patriotic and law-abiding citizens, to assure that firearms do not fall into the hands of criminals, children and those with serious mental illness. This is not about responsible, law-abiding Americans. This is about common-sense laws to prevent those who endanger our safety, our families and our freedoms from obtaining firearms.”

“Gun politics can be a difficult and contentious issue in Washington, but if there has ever been a time to move past the tired old debates and work on a common sense solution, it’s now,” said former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell. “In the wake of the attack in Tucson, and after a string of mayhem from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Fort Hood, I think we can all agree that something must be done. I applaud the mayors’ approach to fix the system we already have by getting all the right records in the database, combined with requiring background checks for all sales. This gives me hope that President Obama and Congress can work together quickly to accomplish some real, effective reform.”

“Over 30,000 people in this country die every year from gun related injuries and thousands more are killed by guns originally purchased in the United States,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu of California’s 32nd District. “In the wake of the horrible incident in Tucson, it is finally time for us to have a frank and civil discussion about the need for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership in this country. I applaud the Mayors Against Illegal Guns for their bold, common sense approach to fighting gun violence and I look forward to supporting legislation in Congress that will make these reforms a reality.”

“Reducing gun violence in America will require a united effort on multiple fronts, and Michael Bloomberg and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns understand that,” said Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York’s 4th District. “Having written the law authorizing more spending for our national background check system, working to close the gun show loophole and introducing the bill to ban high-capacity magazines, I’m excited that the Mayors Against Illegal Guns are committed to advancing these three measures. I commend Mayor Bloomberg and his colleagues for their courage and leadership during this time that we so desperately need them.”

“Background checks are a proven tool in keeping guns out of the hands of those who would do harm,” said Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th District. “Since 1994, more than 1.9 million prohibited persons have been blocked from purchasing a deadly weapon. The system, however, is undermined by incomplete information and loopholes that exclude many gun purchases from background check requirements. By adding the names of all individuals prohibited from buying guns to the national database and closing loopholes that allow felons and the mentally ill to escape scrutiny, we can balance the rights of gun-owners while improving the safety of all Americans.”

“Over the years Congress has enacted laws to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and terrorists,” said Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois’ 5th District, “but we haven’t followed through with the funding to enforce these laws, the data needed to make background checks effective, or the will to close glaring loopholes. Every shooting death is a tragedy, whether it’s a nine year old in Tucson or a nine year old in Chicago. There are deadly consequences to our continued failure to act.”

“Subjecting everyone who wants to purchase a gun to a background check is simple common sense and does nothing to violate the Constitution,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California’s 12th District. “The tragedy in Tucson was just the latest example of why we need to keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of those who would harm themselves or others. I commend Mayors Against Illegal Guns for leading this effort and call on Congress to finally stand up to the gun lobby and pass sensible gun safety legislation that will protect our citizens from violence.”

“The tragedy in Tucson has reinforced the idea that the American people fundamentally believe in reasonable gun control,” said Congressman Anthony Weiner from New York’s 9th District. “People who are mentally unbalanced or unstable shouldn’t have access to guns. This doesn’t violate the Constitution – It’s commonsense. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for taking the lead on this important issue.”

“As Governor of Vermont, I received an A-rating from the NRA and I strongly support the right of law-abiding Americans to own a gun. I also believe with equal strength that felons, drug abusers, and the mentally ill have no right to guns,” said Howard Dean, Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic National Committee and former Governor of Vermont. “In fact, that’s been the law in our country for 43 years since the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. What we need now is a background check system that works to enforce the law – one that ensures that every record is in the system that belongs there and that every gun buyer goes through a background check. I stand with America’s mayors in their effort to make the system work.”

“I thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership on an issue that tears at the fabric of America,” said civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Reverend Jesse Jackson. “For decades, I have seen first-hand that gun violence is our greatest domestic threat. Since the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968, more than 400,000 Americans have been killed with guns – it is a national massacre, and a national shame. We need real reform of our federal gun laws, and today’s proposal will do just that. The background check system must have all the records on individuals like the killer in Tucson, so it can reliably decide who should be denied a gun. And loopholes must be closed to make sure every gun buyer has to pass a check, to prevent dangerous people from getting a gun that they will turn into a murder weapon. Our decades-long struggle to build a peaceful America in the face of violence and bloodshed requires unity and a sense of common purpose, and I call on President Obama and Congress to save lives and do what’s right by passing legislation to get this done.”

“Two weeks before my son Daniel was killed along with 12 others in the Columbine massacre, he asked me about something he learned from his debate team,” said Tom Mauser. “He said ‘Dad, did you know there are loopholes in the Brady Bill?’ Since Daniel was killed, I have worked to close loopholes in our background check law like the gap that helped Daniel’s killers get their guns. That work led to an invitation from President Clinton to attend the State of the Union address in January, 2000. And after 11 more years of senseless and preventable gun violence, I hope President Obama will rise to the occasion in the State of the Union, join this cause and lead the charge to finally fix gun background checks.”

“My sister Reema was shot and killed at Virginia Tech by someone who was able to get a gun because of gaps in the gun background check system,” said Omar Samaha. “Nearly fours years later, Congress has done very little to fix the system in a comprehensive way. Today’s proposal addresses the findings of the Virginia Tech Review Panel by fixing the cracks in the background check system, and closing once and for all the loopholes that give dangerous people a way around background checks. This is in line with what the Virginia Tech families and survivors have long been pushing for, and I support it wholeheartedly.”

“Many lives will be saved by Mayor Bloomberg’s sensible proposal to improve background checks for the purchase of guns,” said artist, musician, and peace activist Yoko Ono. “I fully support this wise proposal.”

“Ensuring that all names of people prohibited from buying a gun are included in the system and subjecting every gun sale to a background check make common sense and could help to reduce gun violence in this country,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents more than 1,100 mayors of America’s largest cities. “The U.S. Conference of Mayors has had strong policy calling for strengthening the background check system and eliminating loopholes within it for many years. That policy was reinforced just last week during our Winter Meeting in Washington through a resolution that was adopted which calls on Congress to fully fund the 2007 NICS Improvement Act; make modifications needed to ensure that all records of felons, mentally ill, and drug abusers actually are in the system; and close loopholes in the law, including ‘Gun Show Loophole,’ to ensure that criminals, the mentally ill, and drug abusers do not slip through cracks in the background check system.”

“When I retired from Congress in 2006 after serving eleven terms representing the 8th Congressional District of Arizona, I was succeeded in office by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords,” said Republican former Congressman Jim Kolbe. “Like me, Gabby has always been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and is herself a gun owner. But after years of conducting literally hundreds of public events with voters in my district, I was, like all Americans, stunned and horrified by the image of a deranged man bringing chaos and death to Gabby’s meeting with her constituents. It was an assault on the very essence of our democracy. This person should never have had that gun in the first place. I support the mayors’ proposal to prevent others like him from getting guns by making sure that the key records which would have prohibited such a purchase are in the system, and that every gun buyer must pass a complete and accurate check before making a gun purchase.”

“Our response to the recent shootings in Arizona should include an honest assessment of our gun laws,” said Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona and United States Secretary of the Interior. “At the very least, we should be able to agree to closing gaps in the background check system so that all relevant information is submitted and each buyer can be properly checked. It’s the responsible thing to do, and that’s why I support the mayors’ efforts.”

“The recent attack on a crowd of innocent Arizonans in Tucson, including my friend, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was an attack on all of Arizona, and an attack on our democracy,” said former Republican Attorney General of Arizona Grant Woods. “A responsible and civilized society requires enforcing the law and protecting the peace. For eight years, that was my job as Arizona’s Attorney General. And while I support the Second Amendment rights of responsible, law-abiding Americans, I also support tough, common sense laws to keep guns out of the hands of felons, drug abusers, the mentally ill and other dangerous people — laws that we’ve had on the books in our country for 43 years. I call on Congress to reform our background check system so it includes all the records it needs to be accurate, and so that it applies to all gun sales.”

“Since the shooting in Tucson on January 8th,” said Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona’s 7th District. “We have all been focused on the recovery of my dear friend and colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, and the many other victims and their families. We will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers, but it is also important to focus on preventing future gun-related tragedies. Gabby and I share representation of Tucson, and this violent shooting has hit our community hard. We are a resilient community, and we’ll pull through, but we need to know that something good will come out of this terrible event. I believe the common sense proposals by the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns will go a long way toward making all our communities safer. It is time to ensure that all the records of prohibited purchasers are in the system and that those seeking to purchase guns go through a background check. I don’t want other communities to go through what we’ve had to face in Tucson.”

“The January 8 attack on our friends and fellow citizens in Tucson will leave deep scars,” said Terry Goddard, former Attorney General of Arizona. “The tragedy raises disturbing questions about public access to elected officials in our democratic system. At the very least, it requires us to redouble efforts to prevent similar attacks. We must at long last carry out what this country began after the assassination of President Kennedy, the rigorous compilation of prohibited possessor data, access to that data prior to authorizing a gun purchase and the closing loopholes which allow prohibited possessors to go around the background check requirement.”

“Just as the tragic shootings in my home state of Arizona have impacted Americans all across the nation, this incident has affected me deeply,” said former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini. “Thirteen people were injured, including Representative Gabby Giffords, and six people are no longer with us because a dangerous person who should have been blocked from buying a gun was able to do so and able to equip it with a large capacity ammunition clip. Many of these victims are people I have known for years. I worked with the Congresswoman over many years and know how dedicated she has been to our State and Nation. Judge John Roll was hired by my office when I was Pima County Attorney. He was truly an outstanding Jurist, dedicated to his family and the community. These losses and injuries did not have to happen and could have been prevented if we had reasonable firearm protection laws in place. The proposal of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the bi-partisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns to require background checks on all gun purchasers and improve the background check system makes common sense and is urgently needed. This proposal will not impact law abiding Americans’ ability to purchase firearms, but is rightly directed where it should be – at criminals and others who present a danger to society.”

“The horrific attack on my fellow Arizonans, including my friend Rep. Gabby Giffords, was an attack on our democracy,” said Neil Giuliano, former Mayor of Tempe, Arizona. “It was also an indictment of a system that lets dangerous people slip through cracks in our laws. It is not just possible to support the constitutional right of Americans to own guns while ensuring that they don’t fall into the wrong hands; it’s essential. As a former mayor, I strongly support the effort of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to ensure that all necessary records are in the federal instant background check system, and to guarantee that every person who buys a gun must first pass that check.”

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