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Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski joins over 200 U.S. mayors calling for bipartisan gun law reform

FILE - Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski talks at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Biskupski on Thursday joined more than 200 mayors across the nation in signing a letter asking U.S. Senate leadership to take swift action on bipartisan gun safety legislation. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski on Thursday joined more than 200 mayors across the nation in signing a letter asking U.S. Senate leadership to take swift action on bipartisan gun safety legislation.

"Feeling safe in your community should be a right in this country, not a privilege," Biskupski said in a statement issued Thursday. "We have to work together to ensure that Washington takes immediate and meaningful action to ensure the safety of the people they represent."

The letter, signed by 229 mayors as of Thursday afternoon, cites the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that killed a combined total of 31 people as "just the latest reminders that our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them."

The letter sent from the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to call Senate members back to Washington for votes on two bills passed by the U.S. House in February: the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, which would establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties, and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which would strengthen background check procedures.

"(The bills) are bipartisan, sensible gun safety bills that would make our cities and our people safer, and would in no way compromise gun owners' rights," the letter states. "We urge you to call the Senate back to a session now to take up and pass these bills to help reduce gun violence and the terrible toll it takes in our cities and our nation."

Later Thursday, McConnell said he wants Congress to consider legislation to expand federal background checks and other gun violence measures when lawmakers return in the fall, the Associated Press reported.

McConnell told a Kentucky radio station that President Donald Trump called him Thursday morning and they talked about several ideas. The president, he said, is "anxious to get an outcome and so am I," according to the Associated Press.

"Background checks and red flags will probably lead the discussion," McConnell said, referring to legislation that allows authorities to seize firearms from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Even with Trump's apparent support, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, a state lawmaker who has tried and failed two years running to pass a red flag law in Utah, told the Deseret News this week he's not sure his third attempt will succeed.

Biskupski on Thursday encouraged Salt Lake City residents to write Utah's GOP senators, Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Mitt Romney, to ask them to vote in favor of the legislation supported in the mayors' letter.

"Remember," she said, "they work for you."

While Romney earlier this week vowed to be a "constructive voice" and called for legislation in the wake of the recent mass shootings, Lee has remained silent.