LOS ANGELES (AP) — Top prosecutors in the nation's two largest cities are rallying their colleagues across the country in a unique coalition to curb gun violence.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced the formation of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence on Wednesday. They have already enlisted 23 prosecutors from major jurisdictions nationwide to join the non-partisan coalition, the first effort of its kind.
Feuer says the first step will be convening a summit on gun violence prevention in Atlanta next month. Prosecutors will share strategies that have worked in their individual districts.
He says they will address guns and domestic violence, illegal gun trafficking, gangs and guns and mental illness and gun violence. In addition to devising new policies and practices, he said they hope to inspire legislators to act.
"Prosecutors have expertise and credibility that is hard to dismiss," Feuer said.
In their joint statement, Vance said prosecutors see gun violence as "a public health and safety crisis that claims lives and destabilizes communities in every jurisdiction in America."
Feuer said the coalition members will take "a very nuts and bolts approach devoid of sloganeering" or partisan politics.
"We are not being reactive to the crisis of the moment," he said in an interview, stressing that for prosecutors whose jobs emphasize punishment the role of preventing gun violence is just as important.
"There are large swaths of Los Angeles where gun violence is common," he said, recounting his recent appearance at an African American church where he asked 3,000 worshippers how many of their lives had been touched by gun violence.
"Half of them stood up," he said.
Later, speaking at a large inner city high school with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Feuer said he asked the same question and 80 per cent of students stood up.
"That underscores that if there's a national tragedy or not," Feuer said, "We owe it to the people to deal with this issue."