Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel escalated his assault on gun manufacturers on Thursday, accusing them of being more concerned with their bottom line than either public safety, or the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports the mayor said he believes the hearts and minds of the American public in favor of stricter gun control finally outweigh the deep pockets of the firearms industry.
“Newtown was a tipping point in this country,” Emanuel said, adding that some gun rights supporters in Congress have said, since the shooting massacre in Connecticut last month, they’re open to comprehensive background checks on all gun sales and other measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
The mayor had just presided over a City Council meeting where he introduced proposed ordinances to increase penalties for weapons and ammunition violations, and to require gun owners to report the loss, theft, sale or transfer of any firearm.
The goal of the mayor’s gun control package was to try to keep legally-purchased weapons and illegal ammunition out of the hands of gangs and other violent criminals.
But he admitted city ordinances alone aren’t enough.
“We need limitations on clips. We need an assault weapon ban renewed. We need comprehensive background checks to prevent criminals’ access to guns,” the mayor said.
President Barack Obama pushed those three measures on Wednesday as part of a package of gun control laws he wants Congress to approve, although many feel such measures have little chance of passage due to opposition from gun owners, manufacturers, and their lobbyists.
“Special interests like the NRA and the gun manufacturers need to be met with the full force of the majority of Americans,” Emanuel said.
The mayor said that includes financial pressure against firearm manufacturers, which he said are responsible for successful lobbying efforts to prevent renewal of the federal assault weapons ban and other gun control measures.
“The NRA and the gun lobby plays an important role, but do not give a pass to the gun manufacturers,” Emanuel said.
The mayor said that’s why, when he speaks to other U.S. mayors this weekend, he’ll encourage them to follow his lead in taking steps to divest public pension funds from any investments in assault weapons manufacturers.
Emanuel has already directed city pension and retirement fund managers to review their portfolios “as a first step” in removing any companies that manufacture or sell assault weapons from city retirement investment plans.
A spokesperson for the mayor said Thursday evening that Smith & Wesson, which makes the military-style M&P15 assault rifle – the company’s version of the AR-15 first built for the U.S. armed forces – is a stock the city plans to dump from its pension funds.