Healdsburg Mayor Susan Jones said it's a "no-brainer" to keep people with criminal records from obtaining guns, and she's one of more than 1,000 mayors urging Congress to require background checks for online gun purchases.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, chairman of the House Gun Violence Task Force, also endorsed the recommendation this week from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an advocacy group led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"It's outrageous that thousands of criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers and dangerously mentally ill individuals can bypass a background check and get a gun online with a few clicks of a mouse," Thompson said in a written statement.
The bipartisan mayors group said Congress should "close the deadly loophole" that allows criminals to buy guns online, citing its own investigation that found one website could enable the sale of more than 25,000 guns this year to people with criminal records.
Analysis of a sampling of ads posted by prospective gun buyers on the website Armslist.com found that one in 30 had committed crimes that prohibited them from possessing a firearm, the mayors group said.
In 2012, licensed gun dealers conducted more than 8.7 million background checks and blocked 0.87 percent due to a history of crime or domestic violence, the group said. Four times as many would-be gun buyers on Armslist — 3.3 percent — were prohibited purchasers due to their criminal history.
Jones, who retired as Healdsburg's police chief in 2010 after a three-decade law enforcement career, said she carried a gun for most of her adult life and still does on occasion.
"I think the solution (to gun violence) is not putting more guns on the street but getting them off," she said.
Her answer to the National Rifle Association's contention that "guns don't kill people; people kill people" is a restatement that "people with guns kill people."
Thompson said that 33 people are killed daily by someone using a gun for a total of more than 9,000 deaths since the Newtown, Conn. school shooting in December 2012.
Thompson's bill to expand background checks for all commercial firearms sales, including those at gun shows and online, has more than 180 House co-sponsors. The bill has been referred to committee and is not scheduled for a hearing or vote in the Republican-controlled House.
Jones said the gun death toll is "disheartening" and that pressure from local governments might prompt congressional action.
Two gun control measures, including one that matches Thompson's bill, failed in the Senate in April and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said this week he sees no reason to revisit the issue without sufficient support.
"We don't have the votes," Reid told a wire service reporter.
Petaluma Mayor David Glass, also a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, could not be reached for comment. The group includes 82 California mayors.
(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)