Recently, The New York Daily News devoted pages 2 and 3 to the agonizing reflections of Alison Parker’s father. Scrawled across the two pages is the question: “How many Newtowns are we going to have? How many Alisons is this going to happen to before we stop it?” Surrounding the pages are 16 NYDN front pages published after mass shootings since Sandy Hook. Some of the Headlines read: ”America Weeps”; “Do Not Betray Them,” “Shame on U.S.”; “We Failed Them”; “ America’s Disease”; “ Madness”; “ Rampage Nation.”
Many editorials, articles, and TV pundits say that nothing will be done because Americans have a short attention span, and as soon as the media drops the story, we forget –until next time. They say that there is no political will to do anything about gun safety in the country because of the NRA’s powerful hold on legislators. My question is: “Where do legislators get their political will?” The answer is simple: from us, the voters. Legislators care about their constituents because for most of them, the big goal is to get reelected, and who does that?
The old adage that “We get the government we deserve” is illustrated in the current craze of gun violence. Public opinion was enough to remove the Confederate Flag from the Charleston, South Carolina capitol (a great thing), but where was the public outcry over the guns. Somehow, we let ourselves be convinced that these shootings are aberrations of the mentally ill. Haven’t we seen enough to know that there is more to this issue than mental illness? It seems that we don’t have the will or the gumption to fight unless we are impacted personally by tragedy. Why did a very right leaning court decide that gay marriage should be legal? Because enough people were personally impacted by the issue to speak out in favor of this fundamental right. Is it going to take the murder, suicide, or accidental shooting of someone we love with a gun to convince us to hound our legislators to pass sensible gun safety legislation?
Currently, PA has a few legislators who have bravely stepped forward with bills that seem to be nothing more than common sense, but these bills will face strong opposition from the gun-loving state of PA. Representative Madaleine Dean has introduced two bills:
HB 1020 requiring firearm restraining orders for certain named individuals. Currently, there is no guarantee that guns are taken away from those charged with domestic abuse.
HB 1030 requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns within 72 hours. Currently, there is no obligation to report a stolen gun, except in the few municipalities that have enacted their own requirement.
These two bills have been passed to the Judiciary Committee
Representative Steve Santarsiero is scheduled to reintroduce his HB 1010. This bill, which failed last year, requires background checks on all guns purchased in PA. Currently, there is no background check required for long guns (anything other than a hand gun).
Written by Peggy Walsh