After Boston saw eight gun-related homicides in January, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Tuesday that he will be joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national coalition founded in 2006 by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
With more than 1.5 million grass root supporters, the group of mayors fights for stricter gun laws across the nation and work to protect communities by keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.
“As mayor of Boston, I am committed to bringing an end to senseless gun violence in our neighborhoods,” Walsh said in a Tuesday release. “Already this year, Boston Police have taken more than 40 illegal handguns off our streets; we can do better to stop them from getting there in the first place. I’m proud to join mayors across the country to push a national agenda for common sense reforms.”
Jake Sullivan, federal relations liaison for the City of Boston, has worked with both Menino and Walsh in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. He said Walsh is one of many mayors who have joined the group after their predecessors left office.
“Mayor Walsh sees incredible value in working with his fellow mayors from across the country to really target the flow of illegal guns into our neighborhoods,” he said. “He knows that this is an issue you can’t solve Massachusetts alone. We need to work on a national level, as well as a local level, to stop the flow of crime guns and illegal guns into our cities. So he’s taken that head on, and he’s really looking forward to working with his fellow mayors on this issue and to save lives.”
On Dec. 19, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Newtown elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Mayors Against Illegal Guns joined forces with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group that fights for gun reforms to make their communities safer.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said Menino’s legacy has brought success to the gun reform lobby for years.
“Menino was — and is — a hero in this movement because he is a courageous elected official who said that regardless of what the arguments are against gun reform, I know what’s right for my constituents and America,” she said. “When you marry the passion of the mothers in our group with the political knowledge of the mayors in their group, you create for the first time in this country an unstoppable grassroots movement that can finally go toe-to-toe with the gun lobby.”
Several residents said they are pleased to see Walsh joining a organization of leaders that will make Boston’s neighborhoods safer.
Ozgun Atasoy, 33, of Boston, said the recent rise in gun violence is a major problem in the city, one that Walsh should be working to fix as soon as possible.
“I would support anything that would help to decrease gun violence,” he said. “Background checks would be an especially good idea. [If Mayor Walsh had not joined], it would make things more disorganized. A central authority is better to organize things and move things forward quicker.”
Steph Campanha, 21, of Back Bay, said Walsh’s membership in Mayors Against Illegal Guns will facilitate a smooth transition between Walsh and his predecessor.
“In terms of guns, for continuity sake, it doesn’t make sense to mess up a policy that’s been apparently working,” she said. “Anything else would probably just kill any progress Menino has made so far. I hope that [Walsh] continues whatever the group has been doing because it seems to be working.”
Shawn Griffin, 34, of Brighton, said Walsh is taking a step in the right direction by joining the coalition, but reducing gun violence may come down to the law enforcement, not the gun reform advocates.
“There’s not much more that can be done, without going in direct offense against the Second Amendment,” he said. “The problem is that no matter what you put in place to stop the ease of purchasing guns, the people who are getting their hands on them to use them incorrectly aren’t running into the same problems. I agree with the policies they’ve set. I just don’t know how they can block the bypasses that criminals have come up with.”