In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the leaders of Westchester County's largest cities added their voices Thursday to a growing call for tougher gun laws.
The mayors of White Plains, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Peekskill and Yonkers sent letters to President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outlining steps they want the federal government to take to curtail gun violence.
The mayors, all members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, want Congress to pass laws requiring criminal background checks for gun buyers, ban military-style weapons and ammunition and make gun trafficking a federal crime.
The request comes one day after Obama called on lawmakers to take action on gun laws following the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.
"It is past time for action," White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said. "Continuing to do nothing is an affront to the victims of these tragedies and their families. We have an obligation -- to them, to our families and to our country -- to demand a plan."
Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis, whose city has seen a spate of recent gun-related deaths, said "offering condolences to families of victims, many of whom have yet to reach their prime, offers little consolation for lack of diligence to quell the proliferation of weapons ending up in the hands of those who care not for the consequences of their actions."
The plea from the county's mayors comes one day after Obama announced the creation of a new task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, which will be charged with developing "concrete proposals" for dealing with gun violence "no later than January."
"This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside," Obama said. "This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now."
With The Associated Press