August 20, 2019
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Toledo mayor: Trump didn’t mean to pray for my city. But I pray for Washington.

John Minchillo | AP
John Minchillo | AP
Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

President Donald Trump misspoke, of course, when he offered prayers for Toledo instead of Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman opened fire and killed nine people on Sunday. We all make mistakes from time to time. Nevertheless, Toledo is happy to accept his prayers, even if they were meant for Dayton. As mayor, my prayer is that our leaders in Washington finally summon the courage to do something — frankly, anything — to stop the senseless mass slaughter that continues to occur with regularity in our communities.

We remain the only developed country where mass shootings are a common occurrence. Why do we allow this to happen? We are the greatest nation on Earth, and we can do anything when we put our minds to it. Americans are desperate for a solution. If only our leaders in Washington felt the same urgency.

It is certainly possible for the United States to strike an appropriate balance between Second Amendment rights and protecting Americans from assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. But our country has failed to achieve this balance. The approaches we have taken as a nation are half-measures — at best — that have left Americans at risk. Our government is failing its people.

The American people are resilient, but our patience is running thin. We cannot allow Dayton or the weekend’s other mass shooting in El Paso to be the new normal. We should not be building a world where our children think that fear is the normal way of life in our schools, churches and shopping malls.

That’s why it’s up to cities such as mine to come up with creative solutions to protect our neighborhoods from gun violence. In the wake of yet another mass shooting last year — when 11 people were gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue — Toledo took some concrete steps to make a difference, announcing that it would only purchase guns and ammunition for law enforcement from responsible manufacturers. The city wouldn’t, for example, purchase firearms from a manufacturer that sells assault-style weapons for civilian use or that doesn’t conduct background checks.

Every year, the city of Toledo spends about $150,000 on ammunition, firearms and firearms replacement parts. I realize that is not a lot of money to a gun company. That is why Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and I are working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to expand the reach of Toledo’s pilot program. At our summer conference in June, the conference adopted a resolution urging cities to use their purchasing power to invest in smart gun technologies and apply market pressure on gun companies. So while the big gun companies wouldn’t miss the $150,000 in business from Toledo, they would take notice if tens of millions of dollars in business from America’s cities were at stake.

I realize this policy is not going to solve the problem of gun violence overnight. But it is a step in the right direction. And unlike the inaction that has crippled Washington, at least it is something.

Wade Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat, is the mayor of Toledo, Ohio.

 



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