Common sense gun reform is long overdue
It is a phrase we have heard hundreds of times from the people we send to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., to represent us.
Common sense gun reform. We heard it after Columbine. And after Sandy Hook. And after Parkland, to say nothing of the mass shootings that have happened in places in addition to our neighborhood schools.
Every time there was a mass shooting incident – such as the recent massacre of those worshiping at a Pittsburgh synagogue – there has been talk of reforming gun laws.
And for the most part, the sound has been allowed to fade, much like the echoes of distant gunfire.
Backed by the power – and money – of the National Rifle Association, seemingly every attempt to curb gun violence with sensible reform has been shot down.
For years, especially here in gun-loving Pennsylvania, it has been the third rail of politics. Gun reform legislation routinely goes nowhere in Harrisburg.
But there are signs, both here in the Keystone State and across the nation, that the tide may be shifting.
Unfortunately, there also are signs that it is not happening soon enough.
This started a few months back in the state Legislature with a plan to get guns out of the hands of those who have been convicted of domestic abuse or who have a final Protection From Abuse Order lodged against them.
A package with bipartisan support, pushed by state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, changed the law, mandating that an abuser turn his or her guns over to police or a licensed firearms dealer within 24 hours.
Under the old law, abusers could simply hand off their firearms to a friend or relative, where they unfortunately too often still had access to them with potentially deadly results.
The measure gained bipartisan support and passed overwhelmingly in the House. After a struggle, the Senate concurred.
It marked a breakthrough in Harrisburg in reforming state gun laws — something often tried, but rarely accomplished.
There also was an indication of the changing politics of gun reform on the national level. Right next door in Chester County, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, a military veteran, made gun control an integral part of her campaign. She cruised to victory to fill the 6th District seat in Congress being vacated by incumbent Republlican Rep. Ryan Costello. Her opponent was an NRA member.
The NRA is no longer touting on its website the grades it routinely assigned to legislators. Apparently that onetime much-desired imprimatur from the gun group was becoming a liability for some candidates.
This week state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a set of recommendations to combat gun deaths and violence. And he says it can be accomplished without changing state laws.
His 20-page report focuses on community efforts to attack the problem and expanding access to mental health services to address those prone to violence.
Specifically, DePasquale wants county sheriff’s departments to start calling the references given by those filing an application for a concealed carry permit.
He’s also seeking the help of a variety of community groups, including sporting groups, safety advocates, law enforcement, medical and mental health practitioners, firearms dealers and domestic violence prevention advocates in his new push for firearms safety. We endorse his efforts.
They can’t come a moment too soon for state Rep. Joanna McClinton. The Democrat who represents parts of West Philadelphia and eastern Delaware County hosted a community meeting after another shooting incident that left two teens wounded, along with an 8-year-old boy who was hit by a stray bullet while sitting in his house.
The shooting – in which as many as 25 gunshots rang out – occurred right down the street from her office.
We are not espousing infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
We hearken back to the same phrase that so often accompanies this discussion.
Common sense: We’re all for it.