Monday, September 14, 2009

NRA Targets Valdosta Mayor.

Valdosta Daily Times:
The National Rifle Association has targeted Valdosta Mayor John Fretti as one of several American mayors linked to a national group concerned with the use of illegal guns.

The mayor said he is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization. But Fretti is also a member of the NRA.

He received one of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action flyers along with several other Valdosta-area NRA members and contributors.

The flyer states: “(New York Mayor Michael) Bloomberg created ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ as a front to lobby Congress to oppose important pro-gun reforms and support new federal gun control restrictions. And Valdosta Mayor John Fretti has joined this anti-gun Bloomberg crusade. It is critical that your mayor disassociate himself from this anti-gun group and you can do your part by contacting his office today and urging him to withdraw his MAIG membership.”

The flyer italicizes the next sentence: “Several mayors have already quit the anti-gun Bloomberg coalition and Mayor Fretti should be the next to do so.”
Fretti believes in the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, but feels the NRA’s flyer has misconstrued MAIG’s work and his participation with the organization.
As a gun owner, Fretti said, he appreciates, supports and practices the right to bear arms. As mayor, he must consider the safety of Valdosta’s police officers and the public.
“I thought it a good idea, being a member of the NRA myself, to enter into the room to discuss how better to provide our law-enforcement officers the tools they need to prevent the flow of illegal guns into our communities and how to better keep the criminal from out-gunning our law-enforcement officers,” Fretti said of his joining what would become MAIG during a U.S. Conference of Mayors.
In an e-mail to The Times, Fretti noted that a small coalition of U.S. mayors successfully garnered an American Civil Liberties Union endorsement for the use of non-lethal, electronic Tasers by law-enforcement officers. Fretti and 12 other U.S. mayors were co-signers of a resolution supporting police use of Tasers. Following this endorsement, the Valdosta Police Department ordered Tasers for each of its officers.

MAIG came from this effort, with a mission of keeping illegal guns out of criminals’ hands “by strengthening the laws and monitoring the illegal weapons while at the same time better protecting our law-enforcement officers from continually being out-gunned,” Fretti said.
“That was it. That was the original intent. The NRA declined to participate at that time saying that ‘you can’t restrict criminals’ access to guns without restricting common law-abiding citizens’ access to guns.’”

In three years, MAIG has grown from 15-member mayors to 450.

“I figured, with the success of the Tasers, there may be an opportunity to come together to find common ground with the NRA to further help our law-enforcement brothers and sisters,” Fretti said. “The NRA declined every year.”
The NRA flyer claims the MAIG is a “misleading name” and characterizes its members as “anti-gun mayors.” MAIG “has lobbied Congress against national reciprocity of state Right-to-Carry permits, against much-needed reform of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, for regulating gun shows out of existence, and for repealing the Tiahrt Amendment that protects the privacy rights of law-abiding gun owners and limits disclosure of sensitive firearm trace data to protect law-enforcement personnel and protect lawful gun manufacturers from reckless lawsuits.”

Fretti beat former Democratic State Rep. Ron Borders for the race for Valdosta Mayor back in 2006

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