Common-sense gun laws are long overdue
Let’s get the niceties out of the way right up front.
The Second Amendment is not going away. Nor should it.
If you legally own a firearm, no one is coming into your home to take your weapons.
But none of that means that gun laws, particularly here in Pennsylvania, should not be updated, and some commonsense new regulations be put in place.
At least that’s the thinking of Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, and state Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163, of Upper Darby.
These Delaware County Republicans are leading the charge in making much needed – and much overdue - changes in Pennsylvania gun laws.
Killion is the driving force behind Senate Bill 501. It would force convicted domestic abusers to relinquish their firearms.
And not just to a friend or relative, as the current law allows. That too often has tragic consequences.
Instead 501 would mandate that person surrender firearms to law enforcement or a licensed gun dealer within 24 hours of their conviction, or after a final protection from abuse order is issued against them.
Santora stands behind House Bill 1400, which would beef up the state’s ridiculously lax background check procedures, mandating universal checks for all gun sales.
Killion’s bill passed the Senate on a 50-0 vote and moved on to the House.
Read that sentence again. You read it right. A piece of gun control legislation was passed unanimously by the Pennsylvania Senate.
The times, they are indeed a changin’.
Two weeks ago, Santora and a group of bipartisan legislators stood on the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media urging action on the measure by the state House.
This week, the movement descended on Harrisburg. More than 700 people rallied in support of the legislation before hearings by the House Judiciary Committee.
More than 11 groups took part in the rally to support the package of bills, which also include measures to ban bump stocks, place limits on magazine capacity, and enact a ban on the manufacturer and sale of semi-automatic rifles.
All of this comes in the wake of the latest mass school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people – mostly students – inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The atrocity has energized young people to demand action. They marched on state capitols, on Washington, D.C., and at their own schools.
This week those young voices joined hundreds of others in Harrisburg asking for meaningful change.
A chant of “Vote, Vote, Vote,” filled the Capitol Rotunda.
They deserve at least that, a vote by their elected representatives, a clear referendum on where they stand in the gun control debate.
It is not going to be easy. We fully support Killion’s measure to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers as well as Santora’s push for more inclusive background checks.
We know that is not going to be an especially popular – and certainly not unanimous - stance. There are going to be disagreements, especially when it comes to semi-automatic weapons.
It’s a discussion that needs to happen.
Research from the group Everytown for Gun Safety shows why Killion’s proposal is so direly needed. They indicate only 14 percent of final protection from abuse orders issued in the state from 2011 to 2015 required firearms to be relinquished.
That should be the easy part. As evidenced by unanimous passage in the Senate, the measure has widespread support across the state.
So should Santora’s push to close loopholes in the area of background checks. We hope the House hears all those voices and takes action on this package of bills.
“Common sense” is something often uttered – but rarely seen - in Harrisburg.
The Pennsylvania Legislature has long been one of the “gunfriendliest” ruling bodies in the nation.
But that was before Parkland. That was before we again witnessed the slaughter of innocent kids.
No one is suggesting that the Second Amendment be overturned. But gun laws can and should be tempered. Especially here in Pennsylvania, where such provisions are long overdue.
Too many lives have been lost.