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Fox Valley community leaders part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition

ElgMayor Dave Kaptain

Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain

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Updated: June 9, 2013 6:17AM

While any type of federal gun legislation apparently remains at best in limbo, CBS News/New York Times poll results released May 1 claim that 88 percent of those surveyed support background checks for all buyers, with 59 percent disappointed by the U.S. Senate’s lack of action on such a measure.

To that end, Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain was among local politicians late last year who joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 900 mayors from across the country “focused on protecting their communities by keeping guns out of dangerous hands,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

Kaptain noted that he signed the proposal representing himself and was not speaking for the entire city council.

“I support background checks 100 percent. I am not sure the course of any action the U.S. Congress may eventually take will be right, but I know to say everything is okay with current gun legislation in this country is wrong,” Kaptain wrote.

Listed on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website as coalition members along with Kaptain are 31 other town leaders from Illinois, including Pingree Grove Village President Greg Marston.

“Tens of thousands of Americans across the country are killed every year as a result of gun violence, destroying families and communities in big cities and small towns,” Marston stated in an email. “As a mayor, I am duty-bound to do everything in my power to protect our residents, especially our children, from harm — and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns.”

Like Kaptain, Marston noted that he is representing his personal view and not that of the village board.

“I strongly support the Second Amendment and understand that this coalition will not end gun violence. Yet if this movement contributes to saving even one life, then I would deem this effort a success,” Marston stated.

Others join in

Listed as honorary coalition members are 16 other Illinoisans including village presidents David Anderson of Elburn, Jeff Magnussen of Hampshire, Edwin Plaza of Lake in the Hills, Al Larson of Schaumburg and Steve Pickett of Sleepy Hollow.

Tuesday afternoon, Pickett said that incidents within the past 18 months brought vivid attention to gun issues facing the country. In the wake of the December killing spree at the Sandy Hook grade school in Connecticut and after receiving a correspondence from the group, Pickett decided to add his name to the list as an individual.

Pickett said he has been disappointed in Congress’ lack of action.

“At the very least, there should be background checks for every gun sale. And for those who say there already are, there needs to be better enforcement,” Pickett said.

Pickett said he would not be opposed to mandatory training sessions for gun owners. And any system should be able to track where and who has weapons, he added.

“We have stricter requirements for having and using an automobile or a motorcycle than we do for guns,” he said.

In Hampshire, after the mass murder in Sandy Hook, Magnussen and Hampshire Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner signed a letter calling to outlaw certain assault weapons.

“Our signed letter is being sent to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn. Twenty-two other mayors have signed on. I’m throwing my support behind it,” Magnussen told The Courier-News in December.

According to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website, the group was formed in April 2006 and “has grown from 15 members to more than 900 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country.”

Bloomberg co-chair

The bipartisan coalition is co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

It lists its goals as “protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns.”

The coalition also has a statement of principles, and Pingree Grove’s Marston stated that two in particular stand out for him: Punish — to the maximum extent of the law — criminals who possess, use and traffic in illegal guns; and to target and hold accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to “straw” purchasers.

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