The Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition (BCWAC) believes that gun violence is a public health issue. We have supported a number of gun safety bills proposed by members of the PA legislature that are widely supported by Pennsylvanians:
- HB 1010 and SB 1049 require background checks for the purchase of long guns from private sellers that closes a loophole in the law.
- HB 1030 makes mandatory the issuance of a firearm restraining order in conjunction with a protection from abuse order.
- SB 1182 closes the loophole in PA that allows domestic abusers to surrender their guns to family or friends instead of the sheriff.
- HB 1020 requires the reporting of lost and stolen guns within 72 hours of discovery.
- HB 415 holds gun owners responsible for preventing children from getting access to firearms.
Not one of the bills has been moved out of the Judiciary Committees. Yet our elected officials fast-tracked the gun lobby’s preemption bills HB 2258 and SB 1330. We are appalled that many legislators have chosen to support bills that would prevent local governments from instituting gun safety measures while ignoring common sense gun safety measures that are sitting in committee.
Even in the ”Wild West” era, there were local municipal rules on firearms. According to UCLA Professor Adam Winkler, “The carrying of guns within the city limits of a frontier town was generally prohibited.” In fact, Winkler continues, “When Dodge City residents first formed their municipal government, one of the very first laws enacted was a ban on concealed carry. The ban was soon after expanded to open carry, too.”
Gun owners have rights, yes, but no rights in this country are unlimited; all rights come with responsibilities. Passing a background check to buy a long gun (including an AR 15), keeping guns safely stored so that children cannot get them, reporting lost and stolen guns, and preventing abusers and the mentally ill from getting guns seem like sane expectations.
We can do better than a C rating in gun safety legislation from The Law Center to Reduce Gun Violence. One of the Law Center’s three suggestions for improvement is to allow local governments to enact gun violence prevention laws that would improve the safety of their citizens. BCWAC Partners implores our legislators to allow local public safety laws designed to protect residents of a community. Please tell your elected officials to vote “No” on SB 1330 and HB 2258 and alternatively to advance the very good public health and safety bills listed above that are sitting in our Judiciary Committees.
This post also was submitted as a letter-to-the-editor to local news outlets.