Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Gray backs gun-control ad
Gray backs gun-control ad BY BERNARD HARRIS, Staff Writer
Two months ago, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray and Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer called for Congress to act on legislation calling for universal background checks for gun-buyers and bans on the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
They tailored their media conference to a regional audience.
Gray is now part of a much broader call for action.
He is one of 30 mayors nationwide who appear in a public service announcement released Thursday by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
In the one minute, 26-second message, Gray calls for passage of legislation that would impose background checks on all gun purchasers.
The video, which can be viewed at www.Demand Action.org, calls on viewers to contact their representatives in Congress.
Andrew Wimer, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, who represents Lancaster city and most of Lancaster County, said late Friday that the congressman had not gotten any calls that referenced the mayors' message.
E.R. Anderson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, said the senator also had not received any calls sparked by the video as of late Friday.
Alex Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, said the senator has gotten a lot of calls on the issue of gun control, but not specifically referencing the one issued by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Gray, who has been active with the Pennsylvania contingent of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said he was asked to participate in the video while in Washington, D.C., in January while attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
He was joined by the mayors of Allentown, Chester, Easton, Harrisburg and Philadelphia in the video.
"Mayors from all over the country are pretty uniform on this," said Gray. "There are over 900 now, and more than 200 from Pennsylvania," he said of the ranks of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Their numbers have grown by 200 since the December massacre of elementary school children and staff in Newtown, Conn., said Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for the group.
The organization also cited recent polls showing public support for universal background checks.
Gray believes the mayors are more in touch with the issue than elected officials at the state or federal level.
"I think they better understand the problem and the consequences of not addressing it," Gray said.
In the video, mayors repeatedly reference the calls they get in the middle of the night from law enforcement telling them of a shooting in their cities.
Gray said he supports the right of people to own firearms for hunting, target shooting or self-defense. And, he said, he recognizes the constitutional protection for gun ownership in the Second Amendment.
"Quite frankly, I don't see how what's being requested here infringes on those rights," Gray said of the proposals.
"With rights come responsibilities," he said, adding that he believes most rational gun owners recognize that.
The proposals called for by the mayors are included in legislation being drafted in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lamb said.
Bills could come to a vote as early as this month, although they have been opposed by the National Rifle Association and some conservative lawmakers.
House Speaker John Boehner has said they will be debated in the House if and when they clear the Senate, Wimer said.
Lamb said the mayors' group hopes its video, posted on its website and YouTube, will go viral and be seen by many people. It had been viewed more than 18,000 times by Friday afternoon.
It already has been played on local television stations and websites, mostly in the communities of the 30 mayors who are shown, she said.
The mayors' video joins others produced by the organization in which celebrities, such as football players, teens, artists and survivors of gun violence demand action from officials.
nJoins 29 other mayors in call for universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines.