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Rawlings-Blake, Other Mayors To Meet In Vegas Amid Gun Debate

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Stephanie Rawlings Blake

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The nation’s mayors are expected to ask Congress to push anew for stronger background checks for gun buyers.

Dozens of city leaders will consider a resolution demanding gun control legislation during the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors conference, which begins Friday in Las Vegas.

The Democrat-controlled Senate voted against legislation in April that would have expanded background checks for firearm purchases to gun shows and online sales.

“If you do not have a safe city, you do not have a city,” Conference of Mayors executive director Tom Cochran said. “We remember those babies in Connecticut and the people who were shot in the Batman movie. At an annual meeting, it would be derelict on our part if we did not call attention to the need for Congress to take action.”

Gunmen’s rampages at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and in a Colorado movie theater last year led to gun control advocates’ renewed push for more firearm restrictions.

At the meeting, big-city leaders including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will tell of their struggles with crime, foreclosures and unemployment rates, and share ideas for leadership strategies.

The roster of more than 100 resolutions leans heavily toward social issues. In addition to background checks for guns, the mayors will weigh resolutions calling for comprehensive immigration reform, state determination of marijuana laws, and support for urban agriculture.

The annual summer meeting, which runs through Monday, is the first for the U.S. Conference of Mayors since the failure of the federal gun control push.

Mayors from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Phoenix and about 200 other cities were expected to attend. They plan to consider reports on a proposed nationwide Internet sales tax, and a limit on tax-exempt municipal bonds, and compete in several awards categories, including most livable city.

The background check resolution is sponsored by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, neither of whom are scheduled to attend the conference.

Emanuel has made gun control a key issue of his administration. At the conference’s winter meeting, he urged mayors nationwide to follow Chicago’s lead and sever ties with companies that make or sell assault weapons.

Bloomberg said that mayors are already on the front lines of gun violence on a daily basis, often comforting families of shooting victims, and has urged them to make clear that members of Congress could lose their jobs if they don’t support tougher gun laws.

At that same winter meeting, Vice President Joe Biden outlined the White House’s plan to take on gun violence, which included a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines and background checks for all gun buyers.

On Friday, with that legislation stalled out, Biden will return to the mayor’s conference to give a keynote address. He is expected to support the background check resolution, which urges the “passage of important public safety legislation in Congress which would require a background check for every gun sale.”
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Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier .
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Online:
United States Conference of Mayors: http://usmayors.org

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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