Stop the violence in Pittsburgh

The mayor is helping, but why hasn't he done more to get guns off the streets?

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The leaders of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network share Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's great concern about the safety of Pittsburgh residents and police officers.

We all know that gun violence has taken a great toll on our city in recent years. We thank the mayor for working with us to find ways to make Pittsburgh a safer city.

Through the course of meetings between the mayor and the interfaith network this past year, the mayor has agreed to fund diversity training for the police force and to expand the number of community members who sit on the panels that score the oral portion of the civil service exam taken by potential officer candidates.

We are pleased that the administration is partnering with Community College of Allegheny County to prepare candidates for the written exam, as well. The mayor acted on our requests regarding these three issues.

As a member of the national organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Mr. Ravenstahl also understands that we must reduce the number of illegal guns on our city streets. This is all commendable.

We embrace our city's Lost and Stolen Firearm Ordinance of 2008. That ordinance requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering it missing or face a fine and potentially jail time after multiple offenses.

On July 22, 2009, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted the mayor as saying in reference to the ordinance, "We'll sit down with the chief and ... could start enforcing that shortly." More than two years later not one person has been fined, charged or prosecuted under the law.

Whether intentional or not, we believe this to be a dereliction of duty on the part of the city government. Have there been no lost or stolen guns used in violent crime in Pittsburgh over the past two years?

Gun violence is one of the most pressing issues facing the city of Pittsburgh, and it demands an urgent, forceful and comprehensive solution, of which the mayor is a critical part. There is great concern in our communities that not enough is being done by the city to address the issue and, as the elected leader of Pittsburgh, the mayor can change that.

We have not received a response from Mr. Ravenstahl to our recent requests that he meet with us to discuss gun violence or attend the interfaith network's Public Action Meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland.

One thousand concerned citizens will take part in that meeting to support efforts to make our city safer. Will the mayor attend?

One thousand constituents want Mr. Ravenstahl to make greater commitments to fight gun violence in the city of Pittsburgh. Will the mayor attend?

U.S. Attorney David Hickton, Police Chief Nathan Harper, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane, county executive candidate Rich Fitzgerald and others have committed to be there. Will the mayor attend?

The future of Pittsburgh hangs in the balance. We will be addressing gun violence, public transportation, good jobs, public education and civil rights for immigrants. For the leader of a city, few issues are more important. Will the mayor attend?

All of us, political leaders and citizens alike, have a responsibility to work to improve Pittsburgh. Only together can we succeed. Will the mayor attend?


Rev. Richard Freeman , pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in Braddock, is president of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (piin.org). This article was submitted on behalf of the network and signed by 16 clergy members of various religions and denominations.


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