Congress should seize on a rare area of agreement between President Barack Obama and the National Rifle Association in the gun-violence debate and provide funds to hire more police officers, the mayor of New Orleans said.
“If Congress can do anything, it can do the thing that everybody agrees on,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
Among Obama’s proposals released on Jan. 16 was one for Congress to approve an existing request for $4 billion to help communities put 15,000 police officers on duty. The NRA has called for more police to protect schoolchildren. Congressional Republicans are pressing for deficit-reduction measures.
Landrieu, 52, a Democrat, called the Jan. 18 indictment of his predecessor, Ray Nagin, on a kickback scheme “a very sad day.” Nagin, who led the city during Hurricane Katrina, was charged with conspiracy, money laundering, bribery, honest services wire fraud and filing false tax returns. His attorney, Robert Jenkins, didn’t return calls seeking comment.
“This reminds people of a day that most people in New Orleans would like to forget,” Landrieu said.
Landrieu is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which supports background checks for all gun purchases and limits on owning assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. A co-chairman of the organization is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
“Most Americans understand that we can have Second Amendment rights and have reasonable restrictions to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals,” Landrieu said. “That’s something we ought to all be able to agree on. We ought to find a way to do that.”
Polls show that public support for new gun laws often increases after a mass shooting and then fades. Landrieu said the Dec. 14 shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in which 20 students and six adults were killed, has kept the gun issue in the public’s consciousness.
“It has been amazing in the last couple of months that the nation has stayed focused on this issue,” he said. “And it seems like this particular event has really caused the nation to at least pause and to think about where we are, where we’re going.”
Landrieu criticized Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to end income and corporate taxes and instead increase the state sales tax to make up the revenue loss. Landrieu said the proposal could mean a 15 percent sales tax for New Orleans. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington- based research group, said Jindal would shift the tax burden from richer residents to poorer ones.
“The numbers don’t match up at the moment,” Landrieu said. “If you want to have police officers, emergency medical services, if you want to have recreation programs for kids, mental health services for folks, then you have to have the appropriate resources.”
The return of the Super Bowl to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina is a sign of how far the city has come back after the destruction, Landrieu said. The game is scheduled for Feb. 3.
Landrieu noted that New Orleans also hosted the first Super Bowl after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The New England Patriots won that game, 20-17, and Landrieu said he expected them to return this year. Citing the Patriots quarterback, he predicted a repeat victory: “I’m going to bet on Tom Brady.”
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