Decorah Mayor Don Arendt has joined "Mayors Against Illegal Guns."

Arendt read the organization's "statement of principles" during the Decorah City Council's Monday night meeting. Afterward, he signed the document.

On April 25, 2006, a group of 15 mayors, hosted by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, held a summit in New York City to discuss strategies for stopping the flow of illegal guns into America's cities. The mayors attending the summit formed a coalition and drafted and signed a statement of principles to guide their efforts.

Arendt said Decorah City Council member Julie Fischer found the statement on the Internet and asked him to consider endorsing it. Arendt said he supports the organization's efforts.

Since launching in 2006, the coalition's bipartisan ranks have grown to more than 850 mayors from 44 states, and the statement of principles has been endorsed by major national organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of Black Mayors, according to the coalition's website.

 The statement of principles follows:

"Whereas: 30,000 Americans across the country are killed every year as a result of gun violence, destroying families and communities in big cities and small towns; and

"Whereas: As Mayors, we are duty-bound to do everything in our power to protect our residents, especially our children, from harm and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns;

"Now, therefore, we resolve to work together to find innovative new ways to advance the following principles:

"• Punish - to the maximum extent of the law - criminals who possess, use and traffic in illegal guns.

"• Target and hold accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers.

"• Oppose all federal efforts to restrict cities' right to access, use and share trace data that is so essential to effective enforcement, or to interfere with the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to combat illegal gun trafficking.

"• Keep lethal, military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines off our streets.

"• Work to develop and use technologies that aid in the detection and tracing of illegal guns.

"• Support all local state and federal legislation that targets illegal guns; coordinate legislative, enforcement and litigation strategies; and share information and best practices.

"• Invite other cities to join us in this new national effort."



Issue of law

"The issue of illegal guns is not conservative or liberal; it is an issue of law and order -- and life or death," Bloomberg and Menino said in a statement on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website.

"We support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. We recognize that the vast majority of gun dealers and gun owners carefully follow the law. And we know that a policy that is appropriate for a small town in one region of the country is not necessarily appropriate for a big city in another region of the country.

"But what binds us together is a determination to fight crime, and a belief that we can do more to stop criminals from getting guns while also protecting the rights of citizens to freely own them.  We have seen how the polarizing rhetoric of gun politics on all sides only obscures the tragic reality we see every day on our streets: violent criminals with easy access to illegal guns."