SALEM - Mayor John Berlin is part of a coalition of mayors against illegal guns, but said "I don't think they're looking to prevent the citizens from having guns at all."
Berlin said he joined the group this past summer after receiving an email from Mayors Against Illegal Guns asking if he wanted to be a part of the coalition.
The group lists a statement of principles on its website at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org regarding guns laws. Some of those principles include keeping military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines off the streets, supporting legislation that targets illegal guns, developing and using technology to help detect and trace illegal guns, punishing criminals who use, possess or traffic in illegal guns and target irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers.
"If the alternative is Mayors For Illegal Guns, I don't want to be part of that group," Berlin said.
He said he's in favor of requiring every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check, even if they're purchasing a weapon online, through a dealer or at a gun show.
He also said the federal weapons ban that expired in 2004 should be looked at again. According to Wikipedia, the ban prohibited the manufacture of certain semi-automatic guns, also known as assault weapons, for civilian use. The ban expired in September 2004 due to a sunset provision and has not been renewed.
He said the mayors in the bigger cities are looking for some relief in the form of legislation to keep these guns off the street. He said Salem doesn't have the major crime problems that bigger cities around the area, maybe 30 miles away, have, but the city isn't immune from crime, either.
Berlin doesn't own a gun, but said he's not opposed to other people having guns. He also said the group didn't just start with what happened in Connecticut, with the recent school shooting.
Simply saying that no one should have guns isn't the answer, but he agreed some requirements need to be in place.
"You have to start somewhere," he said.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org