Gun vi­o­lence dis­cussed at Friends meet­ing­house

The Globe - - PO­LICERE­PORTS - By Jar­reau Free­man

It’s been nearly six months since news broke that shocked the na­tion and brought na­tional at­ten­tion to a quaint New Eng­land town. Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 stu­dents and six adults at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary in New­town, Conn., be­fore killing him­self, last De­cem­ber.

Po­lice found Lanza was in pos­ses­sion of a semi­au­to­matic AR- 15 as­sault ri­fle and two pis­tols — the weapons were legally reg­is­tered to his mother — whom he also killed the same morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports at the time.

Since the events un­folded, there has been on­go­ing de­bate sur­round­ing gun leg­is­la­tion. On April 18 the U. S. Se­nate re­jected an amend­ment to ex­pand back­ground checks on firearm sales, in ad­di­tion to a pro­posal to ban some semi- au­to­matic weapons mod­eled after mil­i­tary as­sault weapons, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports.

Against this back­ground, res­i­dents of Abing­ton and Chel­tenham town­ships and the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pated in a dis­cus­sion about how to abate gun vi­o­lence dur­ing a Chel­tenham Area Mul­ti­faith Coun­cil panel held at the Abing­ton Friends Meet­ing­house in Jenk­in­town May 9. Some of panelists in­cluded state Reps. Madeleine Dean, D- 153, and Steve McCarter, D- 154, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of CeaseFirePA Shira Good­man and li­censed psy­chol­o­gist J. La­mar Freed.

“We are at a point now where we have weapons that can do griev­ous harm to a de­gree that no­body could have imag­ined and surely not the founders of our coun­try when they put in the Sec­ond Amend­ment — ‘ the right to bear arms,’” McCarter said.

McCarter and Dean dis­cussed leg­is­la­tion that sup­ports “con­crete” and “sen­si­ble” laws that will help cre­ate safer com­mu­ni­ties.

McCarter spoke in fa­vor of Penn­syl­va­nia House Bill 758, which deems it un­law­ful to pos­sess weapons un­de­tectable through metal de­tec­tors or u- ray scan­ners.

The fear is that ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy such as 3D print­ers will be able repli­cate weapons us­ing a type of plas­tic to cre­ate func­tional as­sault weapons, he said.

“These weapons will not be de­tectable go­ing through scan­ners,” he said. “The only thing that would be de­tectable would be am­mu­ni­tion. The fed­eral law on [ un­de­tectable weapons] ex­pires this com­ing fall and then there will be no law against car­ry­ing un­de­tected weapons in the United States. Right now there is no move­ment in Congress to redo that par­tic­u­lar law. This bill was [ pro­posed] in Penn­syl­va­nia to get the dis­cus­sion go­ing.”

Sim­i­larly, Dean spoke in sup­port of House Bill 1010, which closes the back­ground check gap.

In the 1990s there was a bill crafted that re­moved pri­vate sale of longer bar­reled weapons from back­ground checks, she said.

“Pri­vate sale, gun show sale and In­ter­net sale [ of weapons] don’t [ re­quire] back­ground checks,” she said. “This is a ter­ri­ble gap in the law and is com­pletely out­dated.”

The in­tent of gun leg­is­la­tion, is not to take guns out of the hands of re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers, but keep them out of the hands of the peo­ple that shouldn’t have them, McCarter said.

Men­tal ill­ness has been one of the most ar­gued causes be­hind many of the na­tion’s most hor­rific acts of vi­o­lence. Freed said the best way to re­duce the vi­o­lent acts such as homi­cides and sui­cides is to re­duce fac­tors of de­pres­sion, ad­dic­tions and im­pul­sive­ness in those who pose a risk. How­ever, he said it’s also im­por­tant that leg­is­la­tion does not in­fringe upon the rights of oth­ers.

Those

at

risk

will be more likely to avoid treat­ment if seek­ing treat­ment means they will be la­beled and the rights they be­lieve are in­herit to their cit­i­zen­ship, such as gun own­er­ship, are threat­ened, he said.

So what can com­mu­ni­ties do to abate gun vi­o­lence? Good­man, of CeasFire PA – an anti- gun vi­o­lence coali­tion – en­cour­aged lo­cals to par­tic­i­pate in marches, vig­ils and con­tact leg­is­la­tors as ways to take stands against gun vi­o­lence lo­cally, na­tion­ally and glob­ally.

Many of the lo­cals who at­tended the meet­ing were in fa­vor of firmer gun laws.

Carol Cof­fin of Glen­side said she sup­ported leg­is­la­tion that will keep guns and am­mu­ni­tion out of the hands of peo­ple who will do se­ri­ous dam­age.

Robert Sloan of Wyn­cote la­beled him­self a “rad­i­cal.”

“Dis­arm ev­ery­one cept the po­lice and mil­i­tary,” he said.

Tom Dwyer, the clerk of the Abing­ton Friends Meet­ing, seemed to sum up the spirit of the dis­cus­sion when he said, “The nu­aker po­si­tion of peace is to say all causes of war and vi­o­lence should be elim­i­nated. Each of us should live the kind of life that would make the rea­sons to com­mit all vi­o­lence, all gun vi­o­lence and all war un­nec­es­sary.” ex­the

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