Universal background checks bill at a standstill in Pennsylvania

Semi-automatic rifles, including several versions of the AR-15, for sale at the Philadelphia Archery and Gun Club in South Philadelphia. Credit: Charles Mostoller/METRO
Semi-automatic rifles, including several versions of the AR-15, are for sale at the Philadelphia Archery and Gun Club in South Philadelphia. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Pennsylvania House Bill 1010 would close a loophole, mandating background checks for the purchase of long guns, not just handguns.

But Harrisburg has done nothing since its introduction in March, said Shira Goodman of the gun control advocacy group CeaseFirePA.

“They are not moving any laws related to guns,” Goodman said of the Legislature. The bill has stalled, even after testimony from the families of victims in the Newtown, Conn., school massacre and Pennsylvania State Police earlier this year.

Arguments from the National Rifle Association, gun store owners and other groups have said long guns are rarely used to kill people.

“That’s not a good argument to us,” Goodman said.

Even though Goodman admits Pennsylvania is a difficult state for passing better gun control laws due to “a long tradition of being a strong NRA state,” she said things have been shifting: HB 1010 is gaining bipartisan support.

If the bill is enacted when the House reconvenes for the year, Pennsylvania could become the seventh state to require universal background checks. And Goodman said the city of Philadelphia is helping fight the fight.

“Mayor Michael Nutter has been great on this issue,” she said. “He’s been a leading speaker. Certainly many people on his staff have been too. The city has been very supportive.”

CeaseFirePa is by no means an anti-gun group; its mission is to take illegal guns off the market. After last week’s deadly mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., Goodman said these types of mass shooting events cannot become business as usual.

“Something has to happen,” she said. “I don’t know what it will take to wake up our legislators. Some of them get it. But their own colleague Gabby Giffords is getting shot. It has to be the force of the public showing that we’re willing to make ourselves heard in their offices, on the phone and, eventually, at the polls.”

More on Philadelphia gun violence can be found here: Philadelphia police fight daily battle against gun violence  

Gun Week: Following the trail of our bloody streets

Boston, Philadelphia, New York City: Three very different cities with a common problem. Gun violence has destroyed the lives of countless individuals and families on our streets and wrought devastation across vibrant neighborhoods, searing itself into their fabric.

Over the next week, Metro will examine the impact that gun violence has had on those cities as well as our country in the aftermath of the recent massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary, Aurora, Co. and the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. We will look at what each city and the country is doing to combat the age-old problem as well as change the deadly culture that, on a daily basis, leaves its bloody imprint on our communities. – The Editors 

 



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