Op/Ed: Pennsylvania needs sensible gun laws

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By Anton Andrew
, Candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 160th District

Anton Andrew

I cannot imagine the grief of those whose children and loved ones were killed at Parkland High School. I express my sincere condolences for their losses. But with this type of tragedy, repeated so many times across our country, we must ask ourselves, “What can we do as a nation to move forward?” What do I tell my ten-year-old daughter when, upon hearing the news, she looks into my eyes, pleading for reassurance this will never happen again? We must find a way to prevent another such tragedy.

I know we are all concerned about the level of gun violence in our nation. What you may not realize is that many gun regulations for Pennsylvania are determined in Harrisburg.

Gun violence is a complex issue and there is no one solution. However, I believe we should come together to pass common sense regulation in areas where there is clear agreement as to a sensible path forward.

One example is having a pre-purchase background check before every gun purchase. Currently in Pennsylvania a resident can purchase a rifle, including a semi-automatic rifle like the one used at Parkland, through a private purchase with no background check. I am in favor of closing that loophole.

Surveys show over 80% of Americans, including over 75% of gun owners, agree (Pew Research, 6/2017). Based upon the most recent telephone poll by Quinnipiac University, released Wednesday, 95% of Pennsylvania voters support background checks for all gun buyers.

Not surprisingly, in the wave of such an overwhelming public consensus, 15 of the 19 State Representatives representing Chester and Delaware County, including majorities within both Democrats and Republicans, support HB 1400, which mandates universal background checks. Stephen Barrar, the current District 160 representative, does not support universal background checks that serve to protect us.

Another needed change is to demand a ban on rapid-firing, semi-automatic assault weapons that were used in yesterday afternoon’s shootings and too many other recent mass shootings in the United States. These weapons were designed for soldiers to kill as many people as possible, in as little time as possible. So, we should not be surprised by the carnage and human suffering they have caused when unleashed on innocent civilians. In fact, many gun owners believe they do not belong in civilian life. Two out of every three Field & Stream readers polled did not consider assault weapons to be legitimate sporting guns.

It’s time for our leaders–those we have elected to represent us– to offer more than thoughts and prayers. They must offer action and change. And if they don’t, we need to change our representatives.

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