Letter to Speaker Johnson Follows Mass Shooting in Lewiston, Maine, Where Shooter Used Assault Weapon To Kill 18 and Wound 13 More
Mayors: “Congress Must Act To Get Weapons of War Off Our Streets”
NEW YORK – Following another mass shooting in recent weeks — this time in Lewiston, Maine, where 18 people were killed and 13 more were injured by a shooter with an assault rifle — New York City Mayor Eric Adams today led a coalition of 62 mayors from cities across the nation in drafting a letter urging new Speaker of the House U.S. Representative Mike Johnson to pass a strong federal assault weapons ban. The signatories include mayors of cities like Buffalo, New York and Highland Park, Illinois that have experienced mass shootings perpetrated with assault weapons.
“In some states in this country, it’s easier to buy a weapon of war than it is to buy a Sudafed,” said Mayor Adams. “As a result, we can’t feel safe in the places where we should feel safest — our movie theaters, our music festivals, our houses of worship, and even our schools. Just a few weeks ago, 18 Mainers were stolen from us by yet another disturbed man, wielding an assault rifle that had no business on our streets. And no matter how strong some state gun laws are, we’re only as safe as the weakest link. We will continue to work tirelessly in New York City and in cities across the nation to drive shootings down and prevent every form of gun violence — whether it’s the mass shootings that make the headlines or the daily gun violence and gun suicides that don’t. But we need our partners in Washington, DC to do their part as well. That’s why we’re coming together to let Speaker Johnson know that we need a federal ban on assault weapons now.”
“Weapons of war have no place on the streets of New York City or anywhere else in the nation,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, co-chair, Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “In the fight to end gun violence and save lives, we must use every tool at our disposal, including the power of Congress. This administration stands in solidarity with this coalition to deliver real action and results in stopping mass shootings.”
“It doesn’t take a career law enforcement professional to understand that assault weapons have no place on our streets and that we must prioritize the safety and well-being of our communities above all else,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phillip Banks III. “In the wake of another horrific mass shooting, we must redouble our efforts to prevent these senseless tragedies and pass this commonsense measure to create a safer America for all. An assault weapons ban made our streets safer once before; it can do so again.”
“Semiautomatic assault weapons — designed solely to kill as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible — have no place in our communities because they pose an obvious, outsized risk to our police officers and all the people we serve,” said New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “Passing a federal assault weapons ban is a crucial step toward ensuring that our cities do not surrender the crime-fighting gains of recent years. Failing to act means that gang members, drug dealers, terrorists, and others will continue to have ready access to these weapons of war.”
“From mass shootings in Maine and Texas to everyday gun violence, communities are being torn apart by these heinous acts. As President Biden has said, this is not normal, and it does not have to be this way. This Biden-Harris administration and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention is committed to taking every step we can to invest in proven solutions and implement laws like the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” said White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Deputy Director Rob Wilcox. “But we continue to call on Congress to pass more commonsense gun laws, such as reinstating the ban on assault weapons, passing universal background checks, and enacting a national red flag law to save lives. We can and must do more to protect individuals, families and kids from this epidemic of gun violence.”
Of the 10 deadliest mass shootings that have taken place since 2015, eight involved an assault weapon. Between 1994 and 2004 — when the federal assault weapons ban was in effect — there were 137 mass shooting deaths; but in the 10 years after the ban expired, there were 326. Mass shooting deaths were 70 percent less likely to occur when the federal prohibition on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was in effect. While New York State does have strong gun laws, including a prohibition on assault weapons, those weapons are legal in nearby states, including Rhode Island, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, and they can easily be brought across state lines.
The Adams administration has systematically driven down homicides and shootings in New York City through an approach that utilizes both prevention and intervention strategies. This summer, Mayor Adams’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force released “A Blueprint for Public Safety,” outlining a forward-thinking roadmap with upstream solutions to address gun violence throughout the five boroughs. The report built upon all the work the Adams administration has undertaken to reduce gun violence by double digits and culminated months of engagement with communities most impacted by gun violence, including young people, whose feedback was critical in shaping the strategies and recommendations that will ensure the city continues to build on the public safety gains made since January 2022.
Co-chaired by First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and Man Up! Inc. Founder A.T. Mitchell, the task force represents a multi-agency, cross-sector effort to address the root causes of gun violence and develop recommendations to promote long-term safety across all communities. As part of this effort, more than 50 members of the task force, representing 20 city agencies, engaged roughly 1,500 community residents over the course of spring 2023 through community convenings and youth town halls.
In his first month in office, in January 2022, Mayor Adams released the “Blueprint to End Gun Violence” — laying out his priorities to immediately address the crisis of guns on New York City streets. In March 2022, Mayor Adams and the NYPD also created Neighborhood Safety Teams to focus on gun violence prevention, and, early in the administration, Mayor Adams funded the city’s Crisis Management System — which brings teams of credible messengers to mediate conflicts on the street and connect high-risk individuals to services that can reduce the long-term risk of violence — at a record $86 million for Fiscal Year 2024. Over the course of the administration, the NYPD has removed nearly 13,000 illegal guns from New York City streets.
“During my time as mayor of the largest city in Texas, we have witnessed deadly mass shootings in Dallas, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe, El Paso, Uvalde, and Allen,” said Houston, Texas Mayor Sylvester Turner. “In each of these events, the cowardly perpetrator used an assault weapon. The State of Texas notoriously increased the accessibility of firearms as a response to each of these tragedies. If more guns, and specifically more assault rifles, made people safer, then Texas would be the safest state in the nation. We are not.”
“It is well past time for Congress to take action. Just as machine guns were banned decades ago, assault weapons need to be taken off of our streets,” said Highland Park, Illinois Mayor Nancy Rotering. “Without a federal assault weapons ban, Americans are at risk of attack anytime, anywhere. Living with this pervasive threat of mass violence is not freedom. Now is the time for Congress to prioritize our nation’s public safety and turn thoughts and prayers into action.”
“As a parent, classroom teacher, and mayor of my town of Monterey Park in California, I call on Speaker Johnson to protect our families and our students and our communities from gun violence by banning assault rifles,” said Monterey Park, California Mayor Jose Sanchez. “My city of Monterey Park suffered one of the deadliest mass shootings in California history leaving 11 people dead and many more injured. My biggest fear is the threat of gun violence in our schools. We cannot continue to be a society where the leading cause of death for young people is gun violence. We owe it our kids and our families to ban assault rifles.”
“How many more mass shootings with weapons of war do we need to witness before Republicans are willing to pass commonsense gun safety legislation?” said U.S. Representative Dan Goldman. “America’s mayors are standing with one voice to call on Speaker Johnson to put a federal assault weapons ban on the Floor of the House for a vote. Congress must not miss this opportunity to respond decisively to the gun violence epidemic — let’s get this done once and for all.”
“Banning assault weapons is not a Democrat or Republican issue: it is life or death,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “In 2023 alone, America has witnessed almost 600 mass shootings, with an additional two per day. When an assault weapon is involved, the average number of people shot increases 23 times. Researchers estimate that a federal assault weapons prohibition would have stopped at least 30 mass shootings over the past 20 years. Taking assault weapons off our streets is a common-sense solution that will save lives and end the heartbreak we experience after every devastating mass shooting. Thank you to Mayor Adams for being a leading voice on the need for an assault weapons ban. We will not stop pushing for it until our federal leadership hears us.”
“Assault weapon bans save lives. No other country in the world has the rate of gun violence we regularly see,” said New York State Assemblymember Alex Bores. “New York has banned assault weapons, but their easy access in other states threatens New Yorkers’ lives. While I share Speaker Johnson’s desire to improve mental health and ‘the human heart’, if someone decides to murder people, they should not have access to weapons of war. The only true pro-life position in this debate is for an assault weapon ban.”
“As the New York City Council Public Safety Chair and a committed advocate for community well-being, I stand with Mayor Adams and fellow mayors in urging Speaker Johnson to pass a strong federal assault weapons ban,” said New York City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks. “The tragic events in Lewiston, Maine, remind us of the urgent need to get weapons of war off our streets. It’s a shared responsibility to protect our communities, and this ban is a critical step toward ensuring the safety and security of all Americans. Let us work together to prevent further senseless tragedies and create a safer future for everyone.”
“Assault weapons have contributed to the loss of life for far too long, and we must work with our partners in government at all levels to find a solution to this public health crisis. Here in New York City, I have introduced legislation that requires consumer warnings when purchasing firearms, and it’s time we take a similar action across the nation,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “Mayor Adams’ leadership in urging Speaker Johnson to pass a strong federal assault weapons ban is just one of many steps toward a bipartisan solution to end this epidemic.”
November 9, 2023 Manhattan New York
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