Police chiefs from across the United States called on Monday for universal background checks for firearms purchases, saying opinion polls consistently show that most Americans support such restrictions.
The proliferation of firearms is one of the factors behind a rise in homicide rates in many U.S. cities this year, according to senior law enforcement officials at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.
Acknowledging the power of the gun lobby and the reluctance of Congress to enact stricter gun laws, the police chiefs told a news conference they were not anti-gun but wanted to keep weapons out of the hands of people with criminal backgrounds.
Current rules on background checks apply to licensed dealers, but up to 40 percent of firearms sales involve private parties or gun shows and do not require checks, the chiefs said.
“This is a no-brainer, this is the simplest thing in the world,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said. “It troubles me all the time.”
Backing the effort is an alliance of organizations representing police chiefs and executives, such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association and groups representing women, Hispanic and African-American law enforcement executives and police chiefs, as well as campus law enforcement administrators.
McCarthy said he was passionate about the issue after four years on the job in Chicago, which has more shootings and killings than other big cities like New York and Los Angeles and where police seize illegal guns at a much higher rate.
The police leaders called for expansion of background checks to cover all gun purchases and for a stronger background check system to ensure all agencies share the same records including criminal and mental health backgrounds.
Mass shootings in the United States such as the one at a community college in Oregon this month where a gunman killed nine people typically renew calls by some officials for more gun control.
A Gallup poll released last week showed 55 percent of Americans preferred tighter regulations on gun sales, something the National Rifle Association generally opposes. Pro-gun groups say increased background checks for gun buyers could infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
“We took on the tobacco industry years ago,” McCarthy said. “We’re not going to give up, it’s the most obvious thing in the world what we have to do in this country. I have more faith in America.”
(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Mass rallies, crazy decisions, grandiose posturing: This is what living in a dictatorship feels like
Another week of shaking our heads and wondering how much longer we can survive him. Yet again, Donald Trump overwhelmed practically everything with the force of his obscene personality, running his mouth and his thumbs even while he was failing to run the country in any sort of conventional sense. He doesn’t actually do anything, but he dominates everything. Living in America today is like being trapped in a room with him — no doors, no windows, no exits, only Trump and the sound of Trump and the hideous image of Trump, all day, every day, for day after day after day.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump officials furious with NRA over ‘dick move’ leak of LaPierre phone call: report
President Donald Trump originally appeared interested in strengthening federal background check laws in the wake of deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Then, after a phone conversation with National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre on Tuesday, Trump reportedly assured him that background checks were "off the table" and pivoted to discussing anything but guns.
It was a depressingly familiar moment for Trump, who also previously headfaked toward some minor gun control reforms after the Parkland school shooting and quickly walked them back.
Trump mulling ‘uniquely dystopian’ proposal to use AI to identify mental health issues as risk factors for gun violence
One critic called the proposal, which expands on Trump's claim that mental illnesses, not guns, are to blame for gun violence, "nothing less than chilling."
In keeping with his insistence that people with mental illnesses, and not the wide availability of guns, are to blame for the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S., President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a new project aimed at detecting mental health issues to stop shootings before they happen.
As The Washington Post reported Thursday, the Trump administration has worked with Bob Wright, a close friend of Trump's and his collaborator on the reality show "The Apprentice," to develop a proposal for a new federal agency that would be called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), within the Health and Human Services Department.