Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mr. Mayor, won't you come out against illegal guns?

Dear Mayor Foster,

Can we talk guns?

When it comes to gun violence, your first term as mayor of St. Petersburg has been a brutal one. Just this year, three of the city's finest were killed by people with guns they should not have had. Not two weeks ago, a security officer was shot dead.

In your sister city across the bay, two more police officers were similarly murdered last summer. The man arrested was a felon who, again, should not have had a gun.

Tragedy after tragedy. And beyond belief.

Some 30,000 Americans die in gun-related violence every year. Mention Columbine, Virginia Tech or the Tucson shootings, and everyone knows the scenes of horror you're talking about.

It should go without saying that many law-abiding citizens own guns legally and handle them responsibly. They are not the problem. Guns in the wrong hands are the problem.

So your city recently got a visit from a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

New York's Michael Bloomberg, Boston's Thomas Menino and a handful of other mayors started the fledgling group in 2006, and now it includes more than 500 mayors from Atlanta to Santa Diego. The bipartisan group's aim: "Stopping the flow of illegal guns into America's cities." Its goals include punishing criminals who use or traffic in illegal guns, holding disreputable gun dealers accountable and making it easier for cities to stop illegal guns.

Hard to argue with that.

The group says it supports the Second Amendment and gun ownership rights, and believes the vast majority of gun dealers and owners carefully follow the law. "The issue of illegal guns is not conservative or liberal; it is an issue of law and order — and life or death," the web site says.

As in, it's about stopping violent criminals from being able to easily get guns, not about curbing private gun ownership. It's about stopping what we're seeing on our streets.

Your fellow mayors in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee have joined. Your own police chief supports them. You, however, seem reluctant.

You've said you don't know enough about the group, and anyway, the Legislature has the ultimate say on gun issues.

This is certainly not for the politically gun-shy. The National Rifle Association has been known to try to bully mayors who join, urging them to quit and calling the group antigun. An elected official might be chastened by this, given the gun lobby's seemingly limitless political power.

Not you, I hope.

Members of your own City Council are trying to do something about the violence. Council member Karl Nurse wants the board to officially ask you to join the mayors group. Even more useful will be the push for a regional public education campaign aimed at stemming the flow of stolen guns — guns that often come from burglaries and thefts.

The campaign would focus on getting legal gun owners to secure their weapons from being stolen and to write down serial numbers in case they are. Police know that too many lost and stolen firearms never get reported.

Maybe adding your name to the roster of Mayors Against Illegal Guns would be something of a symbolic gesture.

But even symbolically, it matters where the people we elect — as in, you — stand when it comes to the violence playing out on our streets.

Mr. Mayor, won't you come out against illegal guns? 05/27/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 6:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Safety improvements coming to deadly U.S. 19 intersection


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Over a six-year period, 14 people, including five pedestrians, were killed in traffic crashes near the U.S. 19 intersection with Beacon Woods Drive in Hudson.

    The proposed fixes to the traffic woes at U.S. 19, Beacon Woods Drive, Beach Boulevard and Dipaola Drive in Hudson include a roundabout,  access roads within the Walmart parcel and a future traffic signal.
Josh Solomon | Times
  2. Brooksville's popular Florida Cracker Kitchen aims at statewide expansion


    BROOKSVILLE — Florida Cracker Kitchen's inverted cowboy boot logo — seemingly plastered on every pickup truck in Hernando County — may someday be just as ubiquitous across the state.

    Shrimp and grits is a signature dish at Florida Cracker Kitchen, which plans to open more restaurants in the state.
  3. Florida education news: Prekindergarten, charter schools, online education and more


    EARLY EDUCATION: Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten program continues to get high marks for access but low ratings for quality and funding in the National …

  4. Review: L.A. music scene in the '60s rocks again in 'Everybody Had an Ocean'


    I was 13 when I went to my first rock concert, a 1966 show by the Beach Boys at the long-gone Bayfront Arena in St. Petersburg. After the last song, one of my friends dashed up on the empty stage and nabbed the paper cup left behind by dreamboat drummer Dennis Wilson. We cut it up and shared the relic, swooning …