MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The mayor of Memphis spoke out passionately Wednesday about state and federal gun laws, saying the city needs stricter laws to combat a growing problem.

“There’s a huge proliferation of guns out on the streets, to the likes of, we’ve never seen before,” Mayor Jim Strickland said on WREG’s Live At 9 program.

“First, we need federal laws with reasonable regulations restricting access to these weapons. Secondly, we need state laws that are tougher, punishing the wrongful use of those guns.”

Strickland said the city did get some relief with the state’s passage of the recent Truth In Sentencing Law, which he said will increase the length of time offenders must serve their sentences for violent acts — from 30% of the sentence to 85-100%.

“That’s a great start,” he said.

Gov. Bill Lee allowed the measure to become law without his signature last month.

But critics say that locking up inmates for longer won’t make much of a difference.

“That’s absolutely baloney,” Strickland said.

“People fire guns at other individuals and they get less than a year in jail,” he said. “And there are people arguing that’s too tough, and we shouldn’t do it, and that is baloney. And those people feel no responsibility for the injuries that are inflicted by these bad people shooting guns.”

More than 2,000 guns stolen from cars in Memphis last year, and this year the number will likely be even higher.

“These guns are not being stolen to go hunting. These guns are being stolen to commit violent crimes,” Strickland said. “So, good people, unintentionally, are arming bad people to do bad acts in our city.”

Gov. Bill Lee was in Memphis on Wednesday, and WREG asked him whether Tennessee might consider any gun laws that would help prevent mass shootings like the one that killed 19 children in Uvalde, Texas.

“There’s a lot of disagreement about the effectiveness and the value of different laws and how they’re applied,” Lee said. “It’s really important for us to remember that criminals do not follow the laws.” 

The Gun Violence Archive says so far this year, the U.S. has had more than 240 mass shootings.