By Alice Dubenetsky
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a nationwide coalition founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in a purported effort to stem gun violence. It is comprised of mostly Democratic mayors and declares on it’s website that the organization’s principal goal is to support the Second Amendment and the rights of citizens to own guns. MAIG professes to target only illegal guns, by, among other goals, punishing “to the maximum extent of the law – criminals who possess, use and traffic in illegal guns.” To a rational person, these seem like laudable goals. Who after all wants guns in the hands of violent criminals? Another of MAIG’S goals is to “invite other cities to join us in this national effort.” Although their membership fluctuates, to date MAIG claims to have approximately 1,000 members.
America’s gun owners, however, suspect their real aim is to make currently legal gun illegal by passing legislation restricting the sale, transport and ownership of firearms.
Here in Vermont, the Burlington City Council has made a few stabs at gun control. Mayor Miro Wienberger at first supported a measure to require a mandatory permit to carry a concealed weapon, but later abandoned that position, perhaps recognizing the realities – and political fallout – of such a measure in a state where gun laws are among the most liberal in the nation, and incidents of gun violence are among the lowest.
But there’s another aspect of MAIG that deserves attention. Within its membership there is an irony so fine it would almost be comical if it didn’t demonstrate an unfortunate trend in America’s political landscape. It seems that a number of the coalitions mayors have had a bit of trouble with the law themselves, including instances of illegal use of firearms. It is so prevalent that another group, calling themselves Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors, has formed to point out the sheer hypocrisy of MAIG.
According the GOAIM (how about that acronym?), members of MAIG have been “convicted of assaulting officers and constituents, corruption, extortion, theft, obstruction of justice, bribery, perjury, tax evasion, child porn, battery and child molestation. They have attacked constituents and police officers, destroyed houses with sledge hammers, and even stolen gift cards donated for the poor.”
Outside of a penitentiary, it’s hard to imagine another such collection of rogues gathered into one group.
In the most recent example, former Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania Mayor and MAIG member James Schiliro was sentenced to 20 months in jail. The good Mayor had the police bring a 20-year-old man to his home to drink wine, because the mayor was attracted to him. When the young man tried to leave, the mayor fired a gun into a stack of papers and threatened to kill himself. The victim, to his credit, dissuaded Schiliro from suicide by reminding him that his daughter was asleep upstairs.
Here are just a few examples of the documented illegal activities of MAIG members:
In 2011 Mayor Richard Corkery of Coaldale, NY was charged with downloading child pornography.
In 2011 Mayor Gordon Jenkins of Monticello, NY pleaded guilty to five counts of trademark fraud and counterfeiting after being caught selling knock-off Nikes. A search of his home turned up marijuana.
In 2008 Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and assaulting a police officer.
In 2010, Baltimore, MD Mayor Sheila Dixon, a MAIG member, was indicted on theft and perjury charges and convicted of taking from a program intended to help disadvantaged children. (She had to resign)
In 2007 the Mayor of Jersey City, NJ was convicted of obstructing justice and resisting arrest after a drunken scuffle with a police officer.
In 2010 Brownsville, TX Mayor Pat Ahumeda Jr. was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunk driving and refusal to take a Breathalyzer test. It was his third DUI arrest.
In 2006 the Mayor of Jackson, Miss, Frank Melton, who is reported to carry firearms at all times, pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed weapon onto the campus of Mississippi College School of Law, and also to carrying a gun into a church and a park, both illegal in Mississippi.
The list goes on and it’s unsavory. It’s possible that some of these mayors were drawn to the organization with the promise ready cash for their campaigns.
One mayor who isn’t on the list, and who struggled to get away from the group, is Brian Maher, Mayor of Walden, NY, who told his story to the blog Misfit Politics after seeing a story on Fox News about mayors backing away from MAIG. Maher said he became involved with MAIG unintentionally while attending a mayoral conference. He was asked to sign a “petition” affirming his support for safer communities. He said he signed because “who wouldn’t want safer communities?” He later discovered that his name was being used for anti-gun propaganda disseminated by MAIG. He said it took him several months to finally contact someone who could help him remove his name. He eventually received a call from a MAIG representative who, he said, “attempted to buy me off” by promising political donations in return for his continued membership. “My hope is that more elected officials will tell their stories of how this self-serving fraud of an organization deceived public officials” said Maher in his article “….it is time for Bloomberg to tell the truth about his organization and apologize to the hundreds of mayors he used.”
Maybe Bloomberg would like to start in Vermont?