POLITICS

California Mayor To Keep Flags At Half-Staff Until Congress Acts On Guns

San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips has “had it simply lowering the flag,” he said.

In the wake of a wave of mass shootings, the mayor of a Northern California town ordered all his city’s flags to fly at half-staff until Congress acts to stop gun violence.

San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips made the announcement at a Monday City Council meeting, saying he’s “had it simply lowering the flag” for a few days at President Donald Trump’s request after deadly shootings.

“San Rafael will not wait any longer to express our impatience with those in Congress to take steps to address this issue on behalf of everyone,” said Phillips, who since 2011 has served as mayor of the nearly 60,000-person city.

“For me this progress is made when Congress takes specific action to address the issue,” he continued. “I am not prescribing that action, as that is their job, but I am saying that to do nothing is not acceptable to San Rafael.”

Congress hasn’t acted on gun control legislation in more than two decades. It has taken steps, however, to curtail the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence

Flags fly at half-staff in Washington after more than 30 people died in mass shootings.
Flags fly at half-staff in Washington after more than 30 people died in mass shootings.

The mayor intends to revisit his decision on Sept. 16 and ask City Council members to weigh in on whether to keep the flags lowered. He already has the support of the congressman who represents San Rafael, Rep. Jared Huffman (D), who wrote in a letter to Phillips that he feels “the same way about the empty ‘moments of silence’ on the House floor” after shootings.

Phillips’ announcement comes shortly after three mass shootings sparked national mourning and outrage. One of those occurred less than 100 miles from San Rafael in Gilroy, California, where a gunman killed three people and wounded 13 others at the town’s famous garlic festival. 

Less than a week later, a gunman killed 22 and injured 24 in El Paso, Texas. Thirteen hours later, another shooter in Dayton, Ohio, took nine lives and injured another 27.

Trump largely blamed the shootings on mental health, video games and the internet. 

“We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” he said in a national address Monday in which he extended condolences to Toledo, Ohio, a town about 150 miles away from Dayton.

Trump, who received more than $11 million from the National Rifle Association during his 2016 campaign, tiptoed around the issue of easy access to guns, saying “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

Phillips isn’t the only mayor fed up with Trump’s response and inaction in Congress. On Thursday, more than 200 mayors issued a letter to the U.S. Senate demanding that lawmakers cut their August recess short to reconvene and vote on two gun background check bills.

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