Memphis mayor to go after illegal guns - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Memphis mayor to go after illegal guns

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Mayor A C Wharton, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich and Police Director Toney Armstrong have been discussing a plan to go after illegal guns.

When police officer Martoiya Lang was killed in the line of duty Dec. 14, 2012, she was shot with a stolen gun.
 
On Christmas Day a 10-year-old boy was accidentally shot and killed by his brother as they were playing with an illegal gun.

These have been two high profile shootings in the past month, but everyday officers are dealing with criminals with guns.
    
"The greatest threat to our safety is these illegal guns out there," Mayor Wharton said. "We're always going to have crime but it won't be as lethal as it is now."

Mr. Wharton says getting guns off the streets is a top priority.
    
"They're chicken, they're punks and if they didn't have a gun they wouldn't do it," he said. "That's the great equalizer. Get high on crack, get a gun in your hand. If they couldn't get the gun they probably wouldn't try the crime."

Wharton has been working with Director Armstrong and DA Weirich to come up with a plan to fight illegal guns. They'll be asking state lawmakers to pass laws to strengthen the penalties for people who steal guns, and they want longer sentences for criminals who are caught with them.

"We're certainly taking steps to make it extremely uncomfortable for people to choose to pick up a weapon and use it in the commission of a crime," Director Armstrong said.

They're also looking to other cities for ideas to reduce gun violence. In December 2012 a delegation from Memphis traveled to Philadelphia to learn about a program they're using called "Gun Stat." The program is a joint effort to track crime data, document gun crimes, and focus on problem areas.

Then police and prosecutors go after repeat offenders and push tough sentences. Law enforcement in Philadelphia say it's helping their community.

Mayor Wharton and others are looking at using Gun Stat in Memphis.

"We're not going to sit around and wait for some federal response to deal with what we have to deal with here," said the mayor. who has been consulting with Vice President Joe Biden's gun task force.

Mayor Wharton sent the Vice President a letter calling for a comprehensive federal plan to deal with gun violence that includes a review of mental health programs. But the mayor also told the Vice President that he believes the issue of guns should be focused on the local and regional level.

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