NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Thomas Bernard has joined Pittsfield's Mayor Linda Tyer in signing onto to the principles of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition following the deadly shootings that killed more than 30 people.
"In the wake of what happened in El Paso (Texas) and Dayton (Ohio) this weekend, she and I talked, and I had been familiar with it and hadn't signed on," Bernard said on Tuesday. "So I suggested that we both look at it — it turns out that Pittsfield had done it previously, and they just hadn't gotten updated on the website."
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now part of Everytown for Gun Safety, was established by the late Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston and then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006 with 13 other mayors.
It came out of a summit hosted by the two mayors and attended by more than 100 mayors of varied political persuasions and representing regions across the nation. The goal was to share information and best practices related to keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals.
It now numbers more than 1,000 current and former mayors who also advocate for gun safety reforms through local programs and at the state and federal level.
"We understand that statements and legislative advocacy alone will not prevent gun violence or senseless tragedy. However as leaders we have an obligation to our residents and our communities to be part of this ongoing and growing national movement to support commonsense strategies and laws that make it more difficult for those intent on pursing a course of violence to act on their deadliest impulses," Tyer said in a statement.
She also extended condolences to the victims and their families.
Bernard felt this was a moment to make a statement, when both legal and illegal firearms are "fueling incidents of domestic terrorism ... and when white nationalist and white supremacist rhetoric has become commonplace."
When students aren't safe in their schools and when more than half the women who are victims of partner homicide are killed with a gun, "we must speak with one voice against this epidemic of violence," he said.
"Together we can promote reasonable regulations that preserve individual rights while ensuring a strong and uncompromising commitment to public safety," he said in the statement.
Tyer and Bernard said, in the statement, that they are committed to actions at the local level to build stronger neighborhoods, promote safety and reduce gun violence, including:
Building stronger relationships at the neighborhood and school levels through community policing programs, including participation in the annual National Night Out
Deepening partnerships among police departments and community agencies such as the Elizabeth Freeman Center and the NAACP Berkshire County Branch
Expanding the use of data to inform decision making and enforcement initiatives
Joining District Attorney Harrington's Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force
"You don't want to imagine what could happen anywhere," Bernard said at the North Adams' National Night Out event at Noel Field Athletic Complex. "No community wants to wants to imagine it. ...
"This felt like a moment where standing up and being counted and making a statement really mattered to me."