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'Violence against law enforcement must stop': Chief Jeri Williams urges Congress to pass gun reforms

The Phoenix police chief spoke before a Senate committee Wednesday, encouraging lawmakers to ban assault weapons and implement background checks for all firearms.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams pressed federal lawmakers Wednesday to help local communities stop the nation's "gun violence epidemic" by passing new laws and providing more resources to law enforcement. 

Less than 24 hours after one of her officers was shot at in the Valley, Chief Williams told the Senate Judiciary Committee how prevalent gun violence had become in her city and the danger her officers routinely face each day.

 A Phoenix officer survived a violent shooting in Laveen on Tuesday after two suspects fired several rounds at the officer.  

"Had it not been for her vest she was wearing, I wouldn't be sitting here today. I would be in Phoenix planning for another funeral," Williams told the senators. "The violence against law enforcement must stop." 

Speaking as Phoenix's police chief and president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Williams' written testimony encouraged senators to make the following policy changes:

  • Banning internet ammunition sales and requiring in-person transactions, records of sales, and licensing of ammunition vendors.
  • Banning “bump-stock” devices that replicate fully automatic weapons fire.
  • Requiring and improving background checks on all firearm sales.
  • Pass legislation for "extreme risk protection orders," which allow police to confiscate guns from individuals posing a risk to others or themselves.
  • Reinstitute the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

Chief Williams additionally focused on addressing the rise in incidents involving "ghost guns," which are unserialized weapons bought online or assembled at home. 

The chief advocated for helping law enforcement's ability to trace where parts to assemble ghost guns are coming from, as well as establishing a penalty for possessing firearms that don't have a serial number. 

A Phoenix man sentenced this week in federal court for firearms offenses was found to be in possession of a ghost gun and over 100 rounds of ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona. But the defendant was convicted for making false statements while attempting to buy a gun from a local firearms store.

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