Sunday, April 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A rational campaign for rational gun laws

If the mayors of the nation's cities don't speak up for gun control, who will? The mayors of more than a dozen cities, including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, concluded they must do what Congress has failed to do: fight for rational gun laws.

Speaking up should not be all that comes from a gun-control summit of mayors who gathered in New York this week. Common-sense gun laws passed by Congress or state legislatures often seem out of reach. For that reason, mayors have to craft lobbying and public-relations campaigns in the realm of the possible. Start by enforcing existing laws, especially those that would reduce access to guns by criminals and crazy people.

One truly outrageous proposal in Congress is an attempt to prevent local police departments from using trace data to track gun dealers who repeatedly sell firearms that end up in the hands of criminals.

Only an out-of-touch Congress would approve something that absurd. If lawmakers in ivory towers don't understand there are too many guns on the street, then we need new lawmakers.

Mayors and police departments on the front line know firsthand the weakness of gun policies.

Seattle is a relatively low-crime city, except it hasn't felt that way after a spate of recent shootings. Perhaps no law could have stopped someone as deranged as Kyle Huff, who committed Seattle's worst mass murder in 23 years, including the killing of teenagers as young as 14 and 15.

Seattle police were aghast at the amount of weapons and ammunition he had assembled.

As the leader of the state's largest city, Nickels is right to push for a state assault-weapons ban and a closing of the gun-show loophole. Gun shows get around requirements for background checks. Other states have gone out on their own to make streets safer.

Current policies are out of sync with reality. If Nickels and Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske step up to lead the charge for sensible gun laws in our state, they deserve our wholehearted support.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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