Dozens of mayors of US cities gathered Monday in Washington to propose "common-sense" measures to better control gun sales across the country, one year after the deadliest school shooting in US history.
Through the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" initiative, which brings together some 300 Democratic, Republican and independent mayors, the city leaders blasted the timidity of local and national lawmakers who refuse to strengthen legislation.
"There are 34 people murdered every single day. That's two more than Virginia Tech," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, referring to last April's shooting rampage at a campus in the state of Virginia.
"Big cities, small cities, no matter what the politics are, we all have the same issue," he told reporters.
The group aims to broadcast a public service announcement calling for an end to the so-called "gun-show loophole," which excludes merchants at gun shows from having to conduct federally mandated background checks on buyers.
Closing the loophole is supported by all three main candidates for the US presidency this year.
"You can walk into a gun show, having a criminal record a mile long, and just walk up to a counter and buy 20 guns and walk out the door with no checks and no federal restrictions whatsoever," Bloomberg said. "It is just craziness."
The mayors also proposed a code of behaviour for gun dealers, already signed by retail giant Wal-Mart, which would require video surveillance at sales counters, a computerized alert network, identity checks for buyers, and the power of employees to refuse a sale if they believe the buyer poses a danger.
John Peyton, the mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, stressed the need for a "common-sense approach to really trying to get illegal guns off the streets.
"It's not about ideology, it's really about public safety."
On April 16, 2007, a disturbed 23-year-old student went on a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech that killed 32 students and staff and wounded dozens of others. He then shot and killed himself.
The tragedy re-ignited the debate over gun sales in the United States, but has failed to bring about stricter federal laws on the purchase of guns.