Pittsburgh Mayor Gainey says Trump’s inaction on guns made the city less safe

Gun Rights

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey criticized former President Donald Trump’s record on gun violence Monday during a press conference Monday.

I am terrified about what a second Donald Trump term would mean for the safety of our community, our children, our playgrounds,” said Gainey, speaking at a playground in Homewood.

Gainey’s remarks followed Trump’s speech this past weekend at a convention of the National Rifle Association – Trump’s ninth such appearance before the gun-advocacy group. Trump reportedly promised to overturn President Joe Biden’s efforts to limit gun ownership. If re-elected this November, he said, “We will roll back every Biden attack on the Second Amendment.”

In 2022 Biden signedthe first major gun safety legislation in three decades after a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The law requires stricter background checks, especially for people under age 21, closes some loopholes for gun sellers, and provides billions of dollars to tackle mental health challenges that have been linked to some gun violence.

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Reversing such changes would make it harder to keep the city safe, said Gainey, who said he was speaking about the presidential campaign in his capacity as a citizen, not as Pittsburgh’s mayor.

“President Biden has taken on the gun lobby and won,” Gainey said. “He signed the most significant federal bipartisan gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years.”

After the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in 2017 Trump initially signaled some willingness to strengthen background checks. At one point, he even accused a group of Senators, including Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, of being too “afraid of the NRA” to do more about violence. But Trump himself later backed down after speaking to gun lobbyists because there was “not much political support.”

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday about Gainey’s remarks.

When asked if Biden’s efforts on gun safety have helped Pittsburgh police do their jobs or reduce homicides, Gainey said most of the success is because of local police efforts. But he added, “Federal laws don’t help one: They help all. … Because it doesn’t go to one jurisdiction.”

A supportive president could make a difference, Gainey said, by supporting legislation that would help cities like Pittsburgh take gun manufacturers to court. Trump wouldn’t, Gainey said.

During Trump’s final year in office, homicidesspiked faster than they have in a century. There are various theories to explain that jump, including economic and social tensions spawned by the coronavirus pandemic. But Gainey said a lack of action by Trump is partially to blame, and he noted the homicide rate in Pittsburgh has dropped in the past two years.

“We saw the largest increase in murders in U.S. history and a spike in gun violence related deaths in Pennsylvania and nationwide,” he said. “That’s because Donald Trump opposed common sense gun safety measures, like a federal assault weapons ban, in order to appease…the NRA.”

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