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Congressman Proposes Limits on Weapons Near Political Leaders

An FBI agent writes down information as he looks at a chair and the ground where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, was shot at a local Safeway in Tucson, Arizona, 10 Jan 2011

Republican member of Congress Peter King of New York State is proposing legislation that would prohibit possession of a gun within 300 meters of senior federal officials. He announced the move in a joint news conference by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other mayors from New York and neighboring states following Saturday’s deadly shooting in Arizona at a congresswoman’s meeting with constituents.

Congressman King is the first Republican member of Congress to propose legislation in response to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six people, including a federal judge. King’s proposal would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 300 meters of an event attended by the president, vice president, members of Congress, cabinet officials, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and federal judges. King noted the measure does not treat members of Congress as a special class.

"The fact is they do represent the people who elect them. And it’s essential if we’re going to continue to have contact and to have conversation between the public and elected officials that the public who is at these meetings can be assured of their own safety," he said.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said 65 percent of the murders in New York City are committed with handguns. He added that 90 percent of illegal local handguns come from other states. Mayor Michael Bloomberg reinforced the point, noting that on average 34 Americans are killed by handguns each day. Bloomberg heads a group of 500 American mayors opposed to illegal guns. He commended President Barack Obama for acting on the group’s proposal to track bulk purchases of assault rifles that are fueling drug violence along the U.S.-Mexican border. It is one of 40 such proposals.

"We hope that that’s only the beginning; that the administration will look carefully at the other 39 steps that we’ve outlined. Each one of them could dramatically improve law enforcement’s ability to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said additional common sense steps toward effective gun control include removal of gaps in background checks to help prevent known drug abusers or mentally unstable people to buy weapons. He also said federal agencies should share information better, noting that the U.S. Army knew the accused Arizona shooter was a drug abuser, but did not share the information with federal agencies that could have put it in a gun control data base.

The mayor of York, Pennsylvania, Kim Bracey, warned if legislatures do not act on limiting gun violence, Americans are bound to see mass shootings over and over again.