Henderson mayor joins national move on gun legislation

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 05:22 PM

Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary this week joined a growing number of city mayors across the nation voicing their concerns about gun violence and legislation to curtail it.

In written responses to questions, O’Geary indicated that he found Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to have some well-considered approaches to exposing a growing national violence problem that he sees as having an impact on Henderson.

The organization had 950 member mayors nationally, including 15 in North Carolina, before O’Geary placed his application to them to join.

O’Geary indicated he is doing further research into the organization, but overall, they seem to have sound solutions.

O’Geary wrote, “Just learning about this organization, I would like to study more about their solutions.”

O’Geary comes aboard in the midst of a legislative battle in Raleigh over House Bill 937 that opponents say would eliminate background checks requirements now covering unlicensed private handgun sales.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is focused currently on expanding background checks so they are required for all sales, along with limiting gun purchases and ownership of military style rifles and limiting magazine sizes.

In written statements for general release Thursday, Mayors Against Illegal Guns indicated the bill was regressive against steps taken to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and included statements from the mayors of Chapel Hill, Durham and Morrisville.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt wrote that convicted felons would take advantage of the expanded allowance for handgun purchases without the background checks, and that would be “a recipe for disaster.”

O’Geary noted he can appreciate what the nearly 1,000 mayors are working on, meanwhile understanding that there are multiple ways to solve any problem.

Regarding gun violence, basic regard for human life and fellow citizens would be another way that would reduce violence, according to O’Geary.

Bloomberg has promoted stricter, more comprehensive background checks, citing overwhelming support by citizens according to national polls.

O’Geary agreed, indicating that background checks contribute to reducing the violence. O’Geary did not take a specific position on HB 937 as of Thursday, and his name was not among the 14 mayors noted as being in opposition to the bill together.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns started in 2006 by 15 mayors, growing to nearly 1,000 mayoral members and more than 1 million supporters, according to written statements by the organization. They claim to be the largest advocacy organization focused on curtailing gun violence.

According to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, mayors are on the front lines in the fight against gun violence and should organize as a voice for new approaches to stopping it.


Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.