Finding the right balance between rights and responsibilities
To call gun safety a sensitive topic that evokes strong emotions is an understatement. In April we held a special joint session of the PA House and Senate to honor the Pennsylvania citizens who lost their lives in the tragic hate crime shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. The last time such a joint session was held (other than the annual budget address by the Governor) was September 25, 2001.
In April of 2018 the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee held six special public safety hearings on gun laws and gun violence. These hearings were without precedent, and many of us were encouraged JUST because they happened. Only members of the PA House were permitted to testify, and I did so on behalf of my constituents.
I chose to have my remarks reflect the thoughts of my constituents. I had received input calling for universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and addressing mental health concerns. Constituents also inquired about ways to enforce the use of gun locks to keep firearms out of the hands of children. Another constituent was concerned that only State Representatives could testify at these hearings and not stakeholders active on this topic.
My testimony also reflected my understanding of the challenges facing the legislature in moving any gun safety legislation forward. Nonetheless, my closing remarks implored committee members to take definitive action on at least some of the measures before them.
Only one bill, HB2060 otherwise known as Act 79 of 2018, made it out of the PA House Judiciary Committee last session. This legislation requires that if someone is convicted of domestic violence, and owns firearms, they have 24 hours instead of the former 60 days to turn those firearms into law enforcement. Other than this one bill, these incidents of gun violence that have resulted in mass killings have yielded no other new gun safety legislation at the state level and only a federal ban on bump stocks recently issued by the Trump administration.
The outcry of citizens made the difference that led to these unprecedented hearings being held in April 2018. I am convinced that citizens can make the difference in ensuring that gun safety legislation moves through the PA legislature during the current 2019-2020 session.
Thank you in advance for letting me know your thoughts on the matter of gun safety by contacting me at 215-482-8726 or at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net.
It is equally important to contact the majority and minority chairs of the PA House Judiciary Committee to advocate for gun safety legislation. This is the committee where these pieces of legislation are currently being held and the chairs must be encouraged to bring them forth for a vote in committee. The chairs are Rob Kauffman and Tim Briggs, respectively, and they can be reached at RKauffma@pahousegop.com or 717-705-2004 or DemJudiciaryCommitteeStaff@pahouse.net or at 717-705-1880.
I am resolved to work toward the enactment of some very basic gun safety legislation, such as universal background checks, preserving constituents’ rights under the 2nd amendment, and working towards keeping citizens safe. Personally, I do not believe these are mutually exclusive goals.
Mark Your Calendar: May 21st
May 21st is this year’s Primary Election Day. Election Day occurs two times a year although you would not know it by the historical turnout in non-Presidential election years. However, this past November’s General Election demonstrated that citizens are paying attention differently as evidenced by an almost 50% turnout nationally and numbers equally strong locally.
See you at the polls!
Speak Up and Stay Informed
Thoughts? Suggestions? Concerns? Make your voice heard by visiting my office at 6511 Ridge Avenue or calling (215) 482-8726. Walk-ins always welcome.