How Mayor Lightfoot can use the power of Chicago’s purse to create safer guns

She has a chance to help reduce gun-related suicides, accidental shootings and the violence caused by stolen guns.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot could join with other big city mayors in purchasing guns for the police that have special safety features, such as fingerprint-operated locks, write the authors.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot could join with other big city mayors in purchasing guns for the police that have special safety features, such as fingerprint-operated locks, write the authors.

Chicago Police Department photo

As the Sun-Times asked last week in an editorial praising Walmart’s decision to further limit gun sales, “Who will be next?”

The leaders of United Power for Action and Justice hope it will be Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

We, along with our affiliated religious and civic organizations in the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation in three other counties in Illinois and across the country, urge Lightfoot to join a growing Gun Safety Consortium initiated by Metro IAF and three mayors in her home state of Ohio.

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The consortium is a vehicle for cities, counties and states to use their combined purchasing power to advance the cause of gun safety in the United States. Government buys 40% of the guns in the United States, but has not made full use of this market leverage to push the gun industry to improve its products and practices.

As a first step, the members of the new consortium will collectively purchase smart gun technology, such as user-friendly, high-tech gun locks that unlock only with a fingerprint, and then have their police officers test these products and give the manufacturers feedback to improve them.

Developers of such products have created personalized gun locks that are ready now to start saving lives. Gunmakers such as Glock, SIG Sauer and Smith & Wesson, however, couldn’t care less. They, and the gun-rights ideologues who protect them, have resisted the development of smart guns, and show no interest in tackling the epidemic of gun theft in America.

Law enforcement evaluation of these new and emerging products would help police departments equip their officers with safer technology, for use on-duty and off. And it would lay the groundwork for widespread civilian use of products that can reduce gun-related suicides, accidental shootings, and the violence that results from as many as 400,000 stolen guns each year.

Major retailers such as Walmart then could use their distribution networks to start selling the latest in gun-security products rather than simply making decisions over which lethal products they should stop selling.

Additionally, cities can use the collective power of the consortium to engage the gun industry to improve the standards and practices within the industry’s distribution systems. Better distribution standards would mean fewer guns flowing into the unregulated secondary market, which floods the streets of Chicago with guns.

As Lightfoot informed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas last week, 60% of illegal firearms rcovered in Chicago originate in other states.

And here too, retailers such as Walmart could really help, by sharing their unparalleled know-how about distribution with the consortium.

For the last six years, United Power and Metro IAF affiliates have been organizing public-sector gun purchasers and gun industry investors through its “Do Not Stand Idly By” campaign. These mayors, police chiefs, county executives, sheriffs, state’s attorneys, attorneys general, governors and other officials are joining us and are ready to translate the campaign’s strategic ideas on public-sector purchasing power into concrete action.

We invite Mayor Lightfoot to join them.

Alec Harris, Renee Reilly and Rose Mabwa are leaders with United Power for Action and Justice, a non-partisan, independently funded network of religious and civic institutions that seeks pragmatic solutions to difficult public policy challenges.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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