Gun rights and gun control advocates demonstrated in the Pennsylvania Capitol building last year. Both sides of the gun control debate had rallied in Harrisburg over the ban on assault weapons at the now-canceled Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
As someone who has dedicated my life to fighting gun violence, I wholeheartedly agree with the June 14 editorial “Official Time Wasters.” Mass shootings have become so commonplace that they don’t even make the front page of many newspapers, and in 2012 more than 6 million guns were sold nationally without a background check.
But our state legislators chose a bill naming a “state gun” as their first firearms bill to pass in the 18 months since Sandy Hook. Absolutely outrageous.
They could have voted House Bill 1010, a one-page bill that would, for the first time in Pennsylvania history, require the private sales of long guns (military-style weapons like AR-15s as well as the family rifle) to undergo background checks, out of the House Judiciary Committee where it has been languishing since March of 2013.
Or they could have voted HB 1515, which, also for the first time in Pennsylvania, would require gun owners across the state to report a loss or theft of a firearm to the authorities when they discover that the firearm is missing, out of the same committee (it’s been waiting on a vote since last June). Instead, our legislators voted on a purely symbolic bill that does nothing to address the problem of gun violence and does everything to symbolically normalize our state’s already rampant firearms culture.
Will the “state gun” bill increase gun violence and gun trafficking? Not necessarily.
But it will certainly do nothing to curb those problems and I, along with most law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania, firmly believe that HB 1010 and HB 1515 will significantly decrease both.
It’s sickening to once again see which path the state Legislature has chosen.
ROB CONROY CeaseFirePA Western PA Regional Director North Side
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