In the days and weeks after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, millions of Americans from across our country came together to demand action from Washington that would protect our families and make our communities safer. The bipartisan coalition I co-chair with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- which includes more than 900 U.S. mayors and more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters -- helped to make sure these voices were heard, and now we have reached a critical moment in the fight to end our national gun violence epidemic.
Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced major gun safety legislation that includes comprehensive background checks and other sensible measures that will help save lives. We demanded a vote, and we're going to get one. But our work isn't over just yet.
To pass this bill and make reform a reality, we need to make sure that our U.S. senators recognize there is no real debate among their constituents on this issue. The American people overwhelmingly support common-sense gun laws that both honor the Second Amendment and take steps to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands.
Today, as legislators have returned to their home states for the Easter and Passover recess, Mayors Against Illegal Guns is launching the largest field campaign in our country's history to address gun violence. Our National Day to Demand Action will see more than 100 events across the country, giving people the opportunity to reach their elected officials directly through petition drives, town hall gatherings, and phone banking that will send huge waves of calls to district offices. The day will include everyone from mayors to law enforcement officials, gun violence survivors to faith leaders -- demonstrating that Americans from all walks of life are united behind the common goal of keeping our communities out of the line of fire.
Working with Organizing for Action, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and other groups committed to gun violence prevention, we're making the strongest push yet to urge our nation's leaders to represent the will of the people when they return to Washington.
We do, after all, have a broad consensus on this issue. A recent poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that in 41 key Congressional districts across the nation, 89 percent of likely voters are in favor of requiring background checks for all gun sales.
The same is true of America's gun owners: In a 2012 survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, 82 percent of gun owners -- including 74 percent of National Rifle Association members -- endorsed mandatory criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. They understand their right to bear arms does not interfere with anyone else's right to live free from gun violence.
Americans know these checks aren't only good common sense -- they're also effective at keeping guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people. That's why states that already require background checks for all handgun sales have 49 percent fewer gun suicides, 48 percent less gun trafficking, and 38 percent fewer domestic violence homicides.
So now our leaders in the United States Senate are in the spotlight. Their choice is clear: They can either stand with the American people in supporting common-sense reform, or they can give in to the pressure of the gun lobby. Ultimately the decision is theirs -- but with 33 Americans being gunned down each day, this should be an easy call.
America's mayors know firsthand the tragic price of inaction on this issue. We're the ones who get the call at 3 a.m. after one of our police officers has been shot and killed in the line of duty, or a young person's life has been cut short by a stray bullet. We see this debate not through an ideological lens, but through the eyes of the countless families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
This is one of the great issues of our time, and the time for action is now. To let this chance slip away would be an injustice to the American people. Join us in our ever-growing movement to keep our country safe from gun violence. We are closer than ever to meaningful and life-saving reform.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a Democrat, is co-chair of the bipartisan coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the City of Boston's longest-serving mayor.
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