Testifying at the special public safety hearings about gun violence.
To say that gun safety is a sensitive topic that evokes strong emotions would be an understatement. The most recent loss of life that occurred in Parkland, Florida has elicited, yet again, an outcry from citizens to elected officials on the state and federal level to do something.
In what I believe was a response to a call for action by Pennsylvania citizens, six days of special public safety hearings on gun laws and violence were held in April.
Only members of the PA House were permitted to testify and I presented testimony on April 9.
Prior to testifying, I asked constituents via Facebook, to weigh in with their ideas and concerns and I would include those thoughts in my testimony.
While some members testified on pending gun safety legislation, I chose to have my remarks reflect the thoughts of citizens and explained to the Judiciary Committee that these thoughts were as valid as any member’s thoughts on the subject. Here are some of those thoughts:
- One was disappointed that only representatives could testify at these hearings, therefore, they are “uninformed debates.”
- Universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and addressing mental health concerns came up repeatedly.
- Another comment included take power away from the NRA; they need to stop buying our politicians; urging passage of the most restrictive gun laws possible. #Enough.
- Keep guns out of hands of domestic abusers
- Addressing school safety does not address the issue of gun violence. Churches, concerts, places of business, clubs, etc. have been victims of gun violence. Guns are the issue.
- Please ask for a clear definition of assault weapons. I’ve never heard a straight answer from either side of the issue.
- Common sense is usually mentioned in the context of its absence and that is nowhere more apparent than in the current debate. But much of the discussion is simply camouflage for undermining the Second Amendment anyway.
- Is there any way to require and enforce use of gun locks to keep out of hands of children?
- Adopt Australian gun laws
My personal remarks reflected my understanding of the challenges facing the legislature in moving any legislation. After all, these incidents of gun violence, particularly those incidents that have resulted in mass killings, have yielded no new gun safety legislation at the state or federal level.
My closing remarks included imploring the committee to take definitive action on at least some measures that were before them and to keep in mind that November 30 is the end of the two-year session. In fact, I reminded them that this is an election year for all of the members of the House and because lame duck sessions are frowned upon, our goal would be to act on legislation in a timely fashion so that bills are on the Governor’s desk by the end of October.
Citizens made the difference that led to these unprecedented hearings being scheduled. Citizens can make the difference in ensuring that gun safety legislation moves through the process in a timely fashion. My commitment is to preserve my constituents’ rights under the 2nd amendment and work towards keeping citizens and guns safe, as I do not think these are mutually exclusive.
Speak Up and Stay Informed
Thoughts? Suggestions? Concerns? Make your voice heard by visiting my office at 6511 Ridge Avenue or calling (215) 482-8726
Stay in the know by signing up for my electronic newsletter (delivered twice monthly) or my paper newsletter (delivered twice a year) by calling my office at 215-482-8726.