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US Rep.-elect Greg Stanton looks to address gun violence at federal level

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — As Phoenix mayor, Greg Stanton oversaw a city where shootings between officers and residents outnumbered the previous year. But as a U.S. representative, he said he wants to address gun violence at a federal level.

Stanton said the No. 1 goal of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which he will be part of as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is to get Congress to pass universal background checks.

“That’s supported by over 90 percent of Americans,” Stanton claimed during an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

But Stanton said responsible gun owners should not be worried about the government taking away their guns.

“Nothing proposed by the task force has anything to do with taking away anyone’s guns or violating the Second Amendment,” he said.

“These are common sense solutions that I think, when passed, most people are going to say these are good ideas,” Stanton added.

“We want to know if people who are acquiring weapons have criminal backgrounds. It’s important to know if people who are acquiring weapons should be acquiring weapons under our American laws.”

Stanton served as Phoenix mayor until May, when the number of officer-involved shootings in the city reached 23 for the year. There were just 21 of those shootings in all of 2017.

As of Nov. 29, the number of officer-involved shootings in Arizona’s largest city reached 41.

Stanton said it was unfortunate that the headline of a widely circulated New York Times article, “How Phoenix Explains a Rise in Police Violence: It’s the Civilians’ Fault,” painted police Chief Jeri Williams as indifferent about the safety of the community.

“(Williams) cares about the safety of her officers and she equally cares about the safety of the people of Phoenix,” Stanton said.

“That’s why she was supportive of having an entity come in and study these so we can learn about ways to improve safety, both for the officers and the community. This is not an easy situation where there are easy solutions or easy answers.”

Ken Crane, the president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, told Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday that the problem officer-involved shootings is a complex one.

“There’s a lot of dynamics we think impact this,” he said, pointing to an understaffed police department, “violent drug and human smuggling traffic” and a growing homeless population.

“Our cops have to deal with these guys every day.”

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