Sections

About Us

 
Make a Donation
Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism
 

Leffingwell, Acevedo call for universal background checks for gun sales

Friday, March 29, 2013 by Ramon Ramirez

Saying “now is the time for action,” Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Police Chief Art Acevedo called Thursday for universal background checks for all gun purchases to keep firearms out of the hands of the wrong people.

Leffingwell spoke as part of a coordinated national effort called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of some 900 U.S. mayors seeking to change the current gun laws. “As mayors our highest and most important responsibility is to enforce the law and protect the people we serve,” he said, “There’s been a lot of talk at the federal level since the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, and now it’s time for action,” he said.

Speaking alongside the mayor was John Woods, whose girlfriend Maxine Turner was murdered during the 2007 Virginia Tech school shootings. In that incident, 32 students were killed and 17 injured in a campus shooting rampage by a student who had been diagnosed with a serious mental condition.

It is currently legal for people to avoid background checks by purchasing firearms at gun shows and on the internet. Leffingwell called universal background check laws “the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill from buying firearms.”

According to Woods – who advocates for the non-profits Texas Gun Sense and Moms Demand Action – up to 40 percent of gun sales in the United States occur without a background check. “Gun manufacturers have worked to kill mandatory background checks, eliminating federal research grants for gun violence prevention,” he said.  “Maxine’s death was preventable.”

Woods added, “The gun manufacturers, with the NRA as their mouthpiece, have repeatedly killed legislation for reporting severe mental health adjudications to the background check system. They said it was a ‘privacy violation.’”

Mayors Against Illegal Guns sponsored more than 120 “Demand Action” events on Thursday in what the campaign called the “largest day of advocacy in U.S. history ever to address gun violence.” The campaign launched a $12 million television ad campaign this week aimed at to pressuring senators to pass gun control legislation. One of these ads featured the families of Newtown, Conn. shooting victims, some of whom met with President Obama on Thursday.

Woods also focused his comments against Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz, who has threatened to filibuster this legislation. “Senator Cruz does not seem to care that even a majority of Tea Party members, right here in Texas, support universal background checks,” he said, “Does he have no shame?”

For his part, Acevedo spoke colorfully, even drawing a sarcastic “tell us how you really feel” from Leffingwell afterward.

“I’m sick and tired of people lying to the American people,” Acevedo said, “You’re for law and order or you’re in favor or chaos and thousands of Americans dying every year.”

Acevedo’s speech targeted the “loopholes” that come with varying gun laws across the country that he said make access to guns so prevalent.

According to Acevedo, 6.6 million firearms have been purchased and transferred without a background check. He said that universal background check laws will “ensure that we have one way of doing it in all 50 states.”

He added that this legislation is not about taking away firearms from law-abiding citizens. “The Second Amendment is about keeping firearms in the hands of able-bodied, of sound mind, Americans” and not “crazy people that are going to hurt themselves or others,” he said.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Back to Top