Randy Hall | Staff Writer/Editor | Friday, September 21, 2007
However, a pro-gun advocate said the group's recommendations show that its members need to "shut up and do their jobs."
While introducing "Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities" on Wednesday, Russell Laine, chief of the Algonquin, Ill., police department and second vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), pointed to figures from the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics that indicate lethal violence across the nation increased in both 2005 and 2006.
"It is simply unacceptable that in communities across America, more than 80 people a day are dying from gun violence," Laine stated while unveiling the 46-page report, which resulted from the Great Lakes Summit on Gun Violence held in Chicago earlier this year and sponsored, in part, by the Joyce Foundation.
"Every day, dedicated police officers put their lives on the line to protect their communities from criminals who often outgun them, but we can't do it alone," he said. "This is why we are calling on policymakers and the public to help us combat gun violence."
Also participating in the event was Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who called the IACP report "compelling" and "a clear call to action."
"Without further delay, Congress and the administration need to do our part by enacting concrete reforms that will reduce crime and protect the safety of police officers and all Americans," said Kennedy.
"In the northern part of my congressional district, there are more than 3,000 gang members, and all have relatively easy access to weapons," said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). "We need to implement common-sense policies that will curb gun violence and reduce gang activity - making our communities safer and stronger."
The report makes 39 recommendations, which are divided into three areas: keeping communities safe; preventing and solving gun crime; and keeping police officers safe.
Specific proposals include:
Requiring that all gun sales take place through federally licensed dealers;
Enhancing the ability of law enforcement to use federal gun trace data to deter illegal trafficking;
Removing all firearms and ammunition from batterers when law enforcement responds to domestic violence calls; and
Mandating safe storage of firearms by private citizens.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, praised the report as a "clear road map from the nation's police chiefs of steps we can take now to combat gun violence."
"In this landmark report, police leaders are saying they are tired of the nation's gun policies being held hostage by the special interest gun lobby," Helmke said in a news release.
"The police chiefs have set out a strong, reasonable agenda for action," he added. "The Brady Campaign supports it, as should every American who wants sensible action to save lives."
However, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told Cybercast News Service on Thursday that he considers the report "outrageous" and a sign that IACP members need to "shut up and do their jobs."
"Clearly, they haven't learned anything from the last 20 years because if you look at statistics over a longer period of time than the last two years, crime has actually been declining steadily," he said. "The uptick, and, in fact, a lot of the crime rate you find in our country, occurs in precisely the jurisdictions where gun control is the most onerous."
Pratt added that members of the IACP are "dangerous" to the average citizen. "They claim to be concerned about our safety, but they would take away our guns and make us less safe."
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, was also critical of the IACP, which he told Cybercast News Service "represents a lot of appointed police chiefs from a lot of totalitarian and dictatorship countries where human rights are constantly violated and freedom of the press doesn't even exist."
"There isn't a gun-control proposal that this organization hasn't supported, as opposed to the National Association of Chiefs of Police, which is very pro-gun rights and represents elected sheriffs," he said.
Gottlieb also said that the Joyce Foundation is "a notoriously left-wing anti-gun rights organization that has funded virtually every gun rights study, survey and poll that's been done in the last six years. On top of that, they donate to or support a significant number of gun-control and gun-ban groups."
As for the report's recommendations, Gottlieb dismissed them as "extremely old hat." The IACP wants federal oversight of the firearms industry "because they want to do everything they can to raise the price of firearms and make it hard to get them," he said.
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