Mayors of St. Pete and Gulfport sign on with gun control advocacy group

04/16/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Every Town for Gun Safety, Rick Kriseman, Sam Henderson, guns, gun control


Volunteers hand out shirts and pledge cards in support of "sensible" gun laws.

photo by Janelle Irwin

The mayors of St. Pete and Gulfport are joining forces with a new group aimed at stamping out gun violence. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced Wednesday he’d throw $50 million of his own money into Every Town for Gun Safety.

During a press conference in front of St. Pete City Hall Wednesday, Mayor Rick Kriseman said police officers confiscate at least one gun per day in the city.

“Every Town opens the next phase in the fight to end gun violence. It will take the works of mayors like me, moms across the nation and many other everyday Americans to convince policy makers in Washington to do more to protect children and our communities.”

Every Town piggybacks on two other groups - Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. As part of the kickoff, volunteers passed around pledge cards. Cheryl Anderson is the state chapter leader for the Florida group of mothers.

“Our moms want leaders who vote for common sense gun laws that protect our children and if our leaders don’t vote to protect them then we’ll find new ones to replace them. We’ll ask our leader plain and simple, are you protecting the gun lobby or are you protecting our children?”

The effort comes nearly one year after Congress rejected a background check expansion last year that would have closed loopholes at gun shows. Opposition to such laws is spearheaded by the National Rifle Association. But CL Townsend is a member and says he still supports what he calls sensible laws.

“It shows their willingness again to ignore the facts and that fear sells guns and facts don’t matter to them in this debate.”

The group is also supported by St. Pete’s interim police chief, David DeKay.

“From a legislative perspective, sensible gun laws go hand-in-hand with protecting the Second Amendment. Respecting our rights and honoring the Second Amendment is as important as protecting our fellow citizens.”

About 45 activists wore shirts that said “I’m a gun sense voter.” That includes things like closing gun show loopholes and limiting assault weapons. Among supporters was Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson.

“One of the things I need from our state legislature is to give back our ability as local government to make our own ordinances governing what can be done with fire arms in our city limits and our county limits.”

Henderson pointed out that just because someone supports these kinds of gun laws, doesn’t mean they don’t support a person’s constitutional right to own a gun.

“I’m a Second Amendment supporter, but at the same time I’ll tell you a brief, funny story about the Second Amendment and being a gun owner supporting that. My wife said, ‘I think when the founding fathers put the Second Amendment in place, they never had any idea what kind of weaponry we’d be able to come up with and how fast that technology would advance.’ It’s clearly not OK for us all to carry around a [missle] in the back of our pickup trucks, so as Americans we understand there are some limits to what we want to do.”

Every Town organizers are creating a political action committee and a 501(c)4 to raise money to support candidates who support gun legislation like expanded background checks. They hope to attract at least one million people to the polls in November.

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