Mayor Anthony Foxx says he's met twice recently with Vice President Joe Biden on the topic of gun control and this he week signed a letter with other mayors supporting tougher firearms laws. But Foxx also wonders if the city may be inadvertently helping to fund the push against gun control. WFAE's Julie Rose reports:
Mayor Foxx this week asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for details about where it gets its firearms and bullets. The lobby against new gun laws is "pretty effective in Washington" says Foxx.
"And maybe we should start looking at where the dollars move and at least understand what implicit role we're playing in this lobby against some kind of sensible action in response to these incidents," says Foxx.
The industry spends millions on Washington lobbyists each year and contributes millions more to the National Rifle Association which – among other things - is a leading voice against current proposals to strengthen the background check system for gun buyers and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
To put the spending in perspective, Opensecrets.org shows gun rights groups spent $4 million lobbying Washington last year. That's 22 times the amount spent by groups lobbying for stricter gun laws. Most of that money came from a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. (Note: Since this story aired, OpenSecrets has updated its figures based on new disclosure reports. Click the links to see latest totals.)
The group was founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and claims some 800 mayors as members. But Charlotte's Mayor Foxx is not one of them. Bloomberg's group requires mayors sign a pledge to support "maximum" punishment for illegal gun violations, keep military-style weapons off the street and hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable.
Foxx says his views generally align with the group, "but one of the concerns I have about joining any group, so to speak, is putting myself in a position where I can't speak credibly to both sides on the issue."
Foxx did sign on to a letter this week from the U.S. Conference of Mayors that urges tougher gun laws, more funding for mental health services and an effort to reverse the "culture of violence in our nation."