By The New York Times Editorial Board
October 29, 2014
The relentless challenge of gun violence has prompted prosecutors from 30 major cities to form a new coalition to advance a cause on which Congress has failed miserably: treating the tens of thousands of gun casualties each year as an urgent public health and safety issue. It is a crisis that district attorneys confront on a daily basis, far from divisive debates about the Second Amendment.
Instead of focusing on proposals that have failed in Congress, like gun buyers’ background checks and ammunition limits, the new group, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, is intent on exchanging expertise and tactics they have developed against gun violence by gangs, in domestic abuse situations, in tracking black-market gun runners, and in dealing with mental health issues and guns.
“We all have practices that can help each other get better,” said the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., the coalition’s co-chairman, after its first meeting last week in Atlanta. His co-chairman, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, noted the broad regional and bipartisan makeup of the group — from Seattle to Miami, Boston to Houston. Its strength, he said, is that “prosecutors have expertise and credibility that are hard to dismiss.”
Their goal is not to be instantly reactive to the latest gun massacre, but to better hone tactics by pooling their experience with gun crimes. The fact that district attorneys tend to be elected and respected as nonpartisans make them more likely to be heard on this issue.
For now, the coalition aims to build on what Mr. Vance believes is a common denominator: “Everybody believes that people should not be victimized by gun violence.” That simple statement is accepted as indisputable by anyone outside the halls of Congress, whose indifference to the national tragedy of gun violence remains a source of amazement and dismay.