- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - A coalition of prosecutors from across the country gathered for the first time Tuesday in Atlanta to discuss ways to fight gun violence.

Prosecutors Against Gun Violence was announced last month and is co-chaired by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and includes 23 prosecutors from major jurisdictions throughout the nation, including Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard in Atlanta.

The goals of the group of prosecutors are to prevent gun violence in the first place, determine the best strategies to deal with gun violence when it happens and to pursue a set of policy initiatives that can help lower gun violence, Feuer told reporters.

“This is the beginning of what we hope will be a sustainable effort that brings the voice of prosecutors to bear on an issue that scars every major city in our country,” Feuer said.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting in Atlanta were gun possession laws, gang violence, domestic violence, gun violence and mental health.

Howard said one of the most valuable takeaways from the meeting was hearing best practices from around the country that he might be able to put to use in Atlanta.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has become a face of the gun control movement since being shot through the head during a 2011 attack that killed six people, addressed the group in Atlanta. He talked about the need for reasonable discussion on guns to counter the powerful gun lobby.

The group he and his wife founded, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is focusing on requiring background checks for online and gun show sales, expanding the prohibition on gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence and cracking down on gun trafficking, he told the prosecutors.

Protecting the right to own guns can easily coexist with measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, Kelly said. He also stressed that preventing gun violence should not be a partisan issue.

“Those 20 little kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School don’t know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican,” he said, referring to a December 2012 shooting rampage at a Connecticut school where 20 children and six educators were shot dead.

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