Mayor Leffingwell and Chief Acevedo Stand With President Obama On Firearm Background Checks

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Today Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell stood alongside Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Texas Gun Sense's John Woods to implore Congress to act on sensible firearm legislation including background checks and ending the “gun show loophole”. The event, one of over 100 across the US, was in conjunction with President Obama's call for a National Day of Action on gun violence prevention. The President is hoping that public pressure will force Congress to enact some changes on behalf of victims and their families. Speaking from the White House today he said, “We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago [after Sandy Hook]and make sure what we said wasn't just a bunch of platitudes, that we meant it,”.

A rally called, “Texas Rally for Gun Sense” will also be held at the South Steps of the Capitol on April 6 at 1pm.

Mayor Leffingwell is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition which is comprised of over 900 big and small city mayors across the country. He said there has been a lot of talk on the federal level since Newtown and “now it's time for action”.

We are here to support the President and Vice President in urging Congress to pass comprehensive and enforceable background check legislation, which is expected to come up in the next few weeks.

Under current law, criminals and other dangerous people avoid background checks by buying firearms, often at gun shows and online, from unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required by federal law to conduct the checks.

Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from buying firearms.

John Woods who represents Texas Gun Sense spoke about the tragic event that changed his life – when his girlfriend Maxine Turner was gunned down in class at Virginia Tech.

Click below the jump for more from John and a video of Chief Acevedo:

When the shooter at Virginia Tech went to buy his guns, all he had to do was check a box on the form that said he'd never been ruled a danger to himself or others, and because of the fun manufactures lobby, there was no way to verify it…I firmly believe and polling supports it, that most gun owners want to run background checks…Why hasn't this happened yet? Ask Ted Cruz, who has threatened to filibuster the legislation. Ted Cruz seems not to care that even a majority of Tea Party members right here in Texas support universal background checks. Does he really have not heart? Seventy families have to experience this kind of pain every single week, right here in Texas — and seventy a day nationwide.

Nobody should have to go through what we did at Virginia Tech, or what the families at Sandy Hook Elementary experienced, They deserve a vote; we deserve at vote. We are a great country and a great state, and we can do better than this.

Police Chief Art Acevedo also spoke passionately in favor of universal background checks including for the direct private sale often referred to as the “gun show loophole”.

Universal background checks is about keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those who are not authorized by law to bear firearms that's all. it will ensure we have one of doing it in all 50 states. It will ensure that there are no loopholes. I call this loophole the grand canyon of loopholes because unfortunately no matter how tough guns laws are in one city or one state all people have to do is go to the internet or go to another city in another state to purchase firearms they are not entitled too. Background checks are absolutely critical.

We protect the 2nd Amendment by doing what we can to keep those guns out of the hand of criminals. Over 6.6 million firearms were purchased and transferred in the United States without a background check.

Last thing I want to say is 80% of prison inmates that were interviewed on how they got their firearms acquired them through private transfers. Its as simple as going to a federally licensed firearm dealer, filling out the paperwork, doing our due diligence, waiting a couple of days and guess what? You get your firearm unless you are a criminal or you are crazy! It's not about keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding Americans and I'm sick and tired of people lying to the American people. Now is the time to act. You are either for law and order or you are in favor of chaos and thousands of Americans dying every year.

If you can not attend the Texas Rally to for Gun Sense April 6th at 1p, you can still sign the petition to Demand Action from Congress.

Below are some facts on gun violence courtesy of Mayors Against Illegal Guns:

33 Americans on average are murdered with guns every day. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of firearm violence in the world, 20 times greater than in other high income countries.

Almost 6.6 million guns are sold each year in the U.S. at gun shows and by other unlicensed sellers where the buyer is not required to pass a background check under federal law.

Evidence demonstrates that background checks save lives. Gun trafficking is 48% lower in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that do not.

In 2010, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38% lower in states with background checks than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.

82% of gun owners – including 74% of NRA members – support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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