It goes without saying that law enforcement is dangerous work. But in the past two days at least 10 officers and one U.S. Marshal were shot in five states. In St. Petersburg, Florida: two officers were killed today in a firefight with a fugitive who was also killed. In Detroit yesterday, a man opened fire inside a police station, wounding four officers before he was shot dead.
These incidents and the tragedy in Tucson have focused new attention on the need to keep guns away from those with a history of violence or mental illness. Today, the families of shooting victims demanded Washington enforce existing laws. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric reports.
Thirty-four: that's the number of people killed by gun violence every day. That's also the number of people who told their stories today alongside New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Martin Luther King III - whose father was shot and killed 43 years ago this April.
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"I would like to think that between my dad's assassination and Senator Robert Kennedy's assassination at least began the process of Congress thinking about putting some legislation on the books," King said.
Six months after King was assassinated, President Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 making it illegal for criminals, drug addicts and mentally ill people to purchase guns.
Twelve years after John Hinkley tried to kill President Reagan, the Brady Bill became law in 1993 - and added a national database for criminal background checks.
"There are federal gun laws that say you can't sell guns to minors. You can't sell guns to deranged people. You can't sell guns other drug dealers. You can't sell guns to criminals," Bloomberg said. "There is also a requirement that a background check is done before you sell a gun. The trouble is there's no money to enforce it and there are loopholes."
"So, you think the laws that currently exist are enough," Couric asked. "Or do new laws need to be passed?"
"You can always have more laws, but if you don't enforce the ones on the books, there's no reason to go and have additional laws that everybody feels good, everybody beats their chest and says, "See, I did something,'" Bloomberg replied.
"So, we had somebody at Fort Hood, if you remember, who killed a bunch of people," Bloomberg added. "The FBI knew he was a problem, didn't tell the Army. In Tucson, the Army turned down this alleged shooter, because he was a drug user. And they banned him from serving in the U.S. military for life. But they didn't tell the FBI, so they could have done something about it. We're not talking to each other."
While some states like California, New York and Virginia have reported tens of thousands of names to the national database - 18 states have reported fewer than 100. Ten states have reported none at all.
Couric asked, "What should the consequences be if states don't comply?"
"The Federal Government has a program where the states qualify for $15 million total. And so, the amount per state is meaningless," Bloomberg said. "The bottom line is if we have a federal law that gets enforced, states will comply."
"We allow people to buy guns that we will not allow to get on an airplane. Just think about that," Bloomberg added. "We'll let them on your street, where your kids are walking. Go out there and have their guns and unfortunately contribute to the number 34 every day."
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