Penn­syl­va­nia needs to act to stem gun vi­o­lence

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

As we be­gin a new leg­isla­tive ses­sion, I can­not help but look back on 2012 and mourn the loss of so many in­no­cent lives due to gun vi­o­lence.

It seemed like ev­ery cor­ner of our great na­tion was af­fected by a shoot­ing in cold blood. I will con­tinue to pray for the fam­i­lies of those who have lost loved ones, but I also re­new my pledge to do my part to end the vi­o­lence once and for all.

The vice pres­i­dent’s gun com­mis­sion made some very im­por­tant strides in mov­ing the con­ver­sa­tion on re­spon­si­ble gun own­er­ship in Amer­ica.

His pro­pos­als to im­ple­ment more wide­spread back­ground checks, limit high-ca­pac­ity am­mu­ni­tion car­tridges, and ban as­sault ri­fles are ex­cel­lent first steps; how­ever, we can­not wait for Congress to solve our prob­lems. We must act here in Penn­syl­va­nia, too.

Last ses­sion, we passed a ban on straw pur­chases of guns in Penn­syl­va­nia. Un­der this mea­sure, in­di­vid­u­als may no longer pur­chase large quan­ti­ties of guns and turn around and sell them on the street.

This is one of many ini­tia­tives to en­sure that il­le­gal guns don’t end up in the wrong hands.

Dur­ing my ten­ure in the Se­nate, I have fought to end gun vi­o­lence.

Through Se­nate Bill 191, my ini­tia­tive to limit hand­gun pur­chases to one per per­son per month, I aim to find rea­son­able lim­its for re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers, while still lim­it­ing the amount of black mar­ket firearms deals that plague our streets.

I have in­tro­duced this bill ev­ery year that I have been a leg­is­la­tor, and will not stop un­til it is passed.

This lim­i­ta­tion is just one step to pro­tect our chil­dren, clean up our streets, and al­low hon­est, law-abid­ing ci­ti­zens to still own guns.

Year af­ter year, op­po­nents of this leg­is­la­tion have crit­i­cized my pro­posal, in­ac­cu­rately ac­cus­ing my leg­is­la­tion of re­strict­ing Sec­ond Amend­ment rights.

And year af­ter year, I ask the same ques­tions: What rea­son­able sports­man or gun col­lec­tor needs to buy more than a dozen guns per year? What rea­son­able fam­ily needs to own more than a dozen guns per year?

None that I know of. And I know a lot of peo­ple from all walks of life.

The sports­men I know would never think of putting 30 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion into a prize deer.

The fam­i­lies I know who have hand­guns for pro­tec­tion don’t need an Ah-47 or sawed off shot­gun to ward off in­trud­ers.

I am not sug­gest­ing that all guns be banned from all peo­ple. We must place an em­pha­sis on re­spon­si­ble gun own­er­ship for those who are emo­tion­ally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally ca­pa­ble of bear­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of own­ing a weapon in­tended to kill.

In the wake of tragedy, we of­ten gear to­ward gutcheck re­ac­tions, and the New­town mas­sacre is no dif­fer­ent.

How­ever, as we re­mem­ber the faces of those beau­ti­ful lit­tle chil­dren who will never re­al­ize their full po­ten­tial, we can­not sit idly by and do noth­ing.

Now is the time for us to unite and act.

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