About 100 political, law enforcement and community leaders from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri as well as crime researchers will convene Thursday at The Depot Minneapolis Renaissance Hotel to talk about what's become the biggest public policy issue in America: how to deal with rampant gun violence. Led by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who are both active in the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the "Regional Gun Summit" has been planned for the past year, but gained urgency when the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., put the issue of gun violence at the top of the agenda for President Obama and other leaders.

According to a city news release, the group will "share information, best practices, common opportunities and challenges in the fight against gun violence and illegal guns. It will mark the first time that this broad cross-section has gathered to tackle this issue face to face."

While much of the conference is closed to the public, the mayors will hold a news conference at noon Thursday at The Depot downtown.