Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor joins group against illegal guns
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
Although he is a gun owner himself, Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor is one of five mayors in Tennessee who have joined the coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
He joined the coalition shortly after the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed by a 20-year-old gunman who committed suicide when first responders arrived on the scene.
“The main focus at that time was to stop gun traffickers going through gun shows,” Taylor said in an interview. “The key word is illegal. Gun shows are where there is the most movement of guns, that and on the Internet. Guns, mainly automatic and semiautomatic, are sold without any background checks. The shootings could happen anywhere.”
Just Monday night, three people were killed and several more wounded in a shooting in eastern Pennsylvania at a township meeting, apparently by a disgruntled resident.
“I have a friend who is retired military. He said there is only one place assault rifles should be and that’s on the battlefield,” Taylor said.
“I don’t have a problem with gun ownership at all. My real problem is with assault weapons. This is not a city council position. It is a personal position of mine,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he was asked to join the coalition by Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan and decided to take a stand against illegal weapons.
The other three mayors who joined the coalition are Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton and Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said he has not been approached about anyone wanting him to join the coalition. “I’m not even sure what it is.”
On gun ownership, Mitchell said, “I believe 100 percent in the Second Amendment (which gives citizens the right to bear arms). I believe our forefathers had a lot more knowledge on what our rights are than the current government.
“I don’t know how we can make a distinction on the type of gun and not blame the people that complete these horrific crimes. I can’t say the type of gun was the reason those kids lost their lives,” he concluded.
Alcoa Mayor Don Mull said he has not been asked to join the coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
However, when asked about his stand on guns, Mull said, “I think any kind of illegal weapon should be banned. We need to protect the public as much as we can.”
Taylor said he expects negative feedback from area residents, but “I can’t find anybody that is in favor of illegal guns. It’s an emotional issue in town.”
He said people are convinced the government wants to take their guns away.
“I own a firearm or two. Gun ownership is not the issue. The key word is illegal,” he said.
There are currently more than 1,000 mayors from 46 states nationwide that have joined the coalition, which was co-founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
“These killings have got to stop at some point. We seem addicted to killing each other with battlefield weapons,” Taylor said.