US mayors send open letter to Obama, Congress demanding tougher gun laws (VIDEO)

The mayors of eight US cities, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, sent an open letter calling for stronger gun laws to President Barack Obama and Congress on Monday.

The letter reads: "Again and again and again, Americans are stunned by senseless acts of violence involving guns. Friday’s tragedy targeting young children in Newtown is incomprehensible. Too many times this year, mayors have expressed shock at a mass shooting. Even more frequently, many of us must cope with the gun violence that occurs on the streets of our cities."

The mayors called for immediate action in the form of presidential executive orders and legislation from Congress.

Their list of specific demands called on Congress to:

  • Enact legislation to ban assault weapons and other high-capacity magazines being prepared by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others;
  • Strengthen the national background check system and eliminate loopholes in it; and
  • Strengthen the penalties for straw purchases [purchases made through a third party] of guns.  

The signatories on the letter included Bloomberg, Emanuel, Villaraigosa, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic and CEO of the United States Conference of Mayors Tom Cochran.

Bloomberg went a step further and joined forces with 34 citizens from across the country calling for gun control as part of the "I Demand a Plan" campaign. Voice of America said Bloomberg is the co-chair of the organization behind the campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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On Monday night, Bloomberg said, "Words alone cannot heal our nation. Only action can do that. Gun violence is a national epidemic and a national tragedy that demands more than words. We are the only industrialized country that has this problem."

The White House said on Tuesday that Obama "strongly" supported a renewal of the assault weapons ban and would back new gun legislation, according to Politico.

"He is actively supportive of, for example, Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Watch a video from the "I Demand a Plan" campaign: