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U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Washington to enact stronger gun laws

An open letter from Mayor Michael Nutter and others sent to the president and Congress yesterday demands immediate action.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, headed up by Mayor Michael Nutter, on Monday sent an open letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress calling for stronger gun laws and more mental health funding in response to last week's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school.

“We believe that with this latest national tragedy and the high incidence of gun violence that continues to plague our streets, we have reached a tipping point," the letter read. "The nation’s mayors pledge to work with you to build a safer America for our children and all of our citizens."

The letter signed by Nutter, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and six other officials urges immediate action, calling on Congress to introduce and pass gun control legislation and Obama to exercise his power through Executive Order.

It specifically demands laws banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, eliminating loopholes in the national background check system and toughening penalties for straw purchasers of firearms.

"We know that preventing gun violence – whether it is a mass shooting in a school or a murder on a street corner – will take much more than strengthening our gun laws," the letter said. "We need to reverse the culture of violence in our nation so that a violent act isn’t the first response to settling a difference or compensating for a wrong."

The mayors suggested establishing a bipartisan commission to take on the broader social issue of violence in the country and dedicating more funding to the mental health issues so troubled individuals can be identified and treated before their condition escalates.

"But strengthening our gun laws should not have to wait for these other actions to occur," the letter concluded. "The time for action is now!"

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