The Conference of Mayors has had strong policy on gun safety tracing back to the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. On the 10th Anniversary of the Columbine massacre, and approaching the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, and with gunshots again echoing in cities across the nation, we are reminded of Washington's failure to deliver sensible, responsible gun safety laws.

Last year, mayors made gun safety a key element in our National Action Agenda on Crime for the Next President of the United States, and called for enactment of a six-point agenda:

1. A strengthened, effective ban on military-style assault weapons, such as AK-47s, and their component parts must be reinstated.

2. Common sense gun legislation, such as that advocated by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, should be enacted. Such legislation should close the gun show loophole, keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, and no longer permit gun dealers whose licenses are revoked to conduct fire sales.

3. Legislation should be enacted which would limit the number of guns a person may purchase in a single transaction or in a month or other specified period of time.

4. Law enforcement agencies' access to gun trace data should not be limited in any way by either state or federal law - for example, by any version of the so-called Tiahrt amendment.

5. Anyone purchasing a firearm in the United States should be required to go through a background check. Full funding should be provided for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and states should be required to submit records, including those involving persons with serious mental health problems, to the NICS.

6. The Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) should be expanded to include ballistic images for all new guns, not just those involved in crimes. The federal government should support the development of new technologies, such as microstamping, which can help solve crimes.

If you don't have a safe city, you have a challenged city; if you don't have a safe nation, you have a challenged nation. This latest epidemic of shootings in our cities has left our nation's mayors asking: How many more gun-related acts of violence must we experience before the nation's leaders will decide that it is time to act? When will public safety trump politics? The time for action is now.

By: Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The United States Conference of Mayors