Several mayors of cities that have experienced mass shootings met in Washington, D.C. recently not only to talk about methods to help prevent and prepare for these traumatic events, but also to discuss how to respond to them.
Parkland, Florida Mayor Christine Hunschofsky has one answer: legislation. “What over 90 percent of Americans would like to see are universal background checks,” said Hunschofsky, who is a Democrat. She was the city’s mayor in 2018 when 17 were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Most polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks, but related legislation hasn’t gone very far in Congress.
There should also be added focus on mental health issues related to gun violence, Hunschofsky added. “I encourage all mayors to look into trauma and what they can be doing in their cities to work against the trauma.”
Many of the mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, which wrapped up Jan. 24, have criticized the Trump administration for what they say are severe cuts to programs that can help those affected by gun violence.
Hunschofsky added that the “red flag law” Florida enacted after the Parkland shooting has been helpful, but that universal background checks would add an extra layer of security. “Police now don’t have that tool,” she said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, whose city experienced a nightclub mass shooting in 2016, added that gun violence has become too commonplace.
“If you’re the leader of your community, you have to now assume that it’s going to occur in your community at some point on some mass scale, so you have to be prepared for that,” he said.
Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia added that the precautions her city is taking to combat gun violence, particularly in schools, include being in constant contact with school boards and speaking about the detrimental effects of bullying. “It’s something that’s ongoing and absolutely open to anybody and any conversations that need to be had on this subject,” she said. (Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz said he was a victim of bullying in school.)
Petrolia said one of her legislative priorities would be to see a ban on assault weapons because “Florida is a huge supporter of no gun control.” The last assault weapons ban on a national level was enacted in 1994 and expired in 2004. Attempts at bringing it back have so far been unsuccessful.