Mayors appeal to federal government for help with gun control

Washington -- Mayors usually come to Washington to ask the federal government for money, but now many are asking for help with gun control, too.

"I'm trying to leverage this issue, not because of what happened in Newtown, but because economic development in Hartford depends on whether we can control gun violence," said Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Hartford's mayor said Harvard economist Edward Glaeser told him "if you can't get your crime reduced, you are not going to succeed."

While Connecticut's legislature is considering toughening the state's gun laws, Segarra said a comprehensive, federal approach is needed to prevent an influx of guns from other states. He's also looking for more federal money to hire local cops.

As Connecticut's chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Segarra said he met Friday with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime gun control advocate.

In a speech Friday, Bloomberg urged the nation's mayors to pressure Congress to approve a package of gun control proposals released by President Barack Obama this week.

"We need to tell our members of Congress that they've got to stand up for sensible gun laws, and if they do that, we will stand up for them, and if they don't we will stand up for whoever runs against them," Bloomberg said. "The NRA says, 'You don't support us, we're going to make you lose your job. We're going to support your opponent.' Well, we can do exactly the same thing.'"

Connecticut has sent a healthy delegation to the winter meeting of the Conference of Mayors this week.

There are 10 Connecticut mayors registered at the conference, as many as there are from New Jersey -- a state that's more than twice as large -- and more than there are from Massachusetts, which sent only seven to the event.

Besides gun violence, a top issue is immigration, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said.

The mayors are also seeking help from the federal government on education and community development issues.

"Financial issues also drive a lot of interest," DeStefano said. "But we're more concerned whether Congress will actually get something done."

Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the mayors Thursday and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy plans to address them Saturday.

Mayors Marcia LeClerc of East Hartford; Michael Tetreau of Fairfield; Richard Moccia of Norwalk; Mark Lauretti of Shelton; Michael Pavia of Stamford; John Harkins of Stratford; Timothy Herbst of Trumbull and Neil O'Leary of Waterbury also registered for the conference.

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