Anti gun violence advocates held rally in W. Chester

Anti-gun violence protestors in West Chester last Friday.

By Tom Buglio, Special to The Times

On Friday, June 2, an assembly of around 50 energetic gun violence prevention advocates rallied at noon during a warm late spring day at the steps of the Old Courthouse in West Chester.  Organized by CeaseFirePA,  ‘Wear Orange’ Day commemorates all of the victims amid the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in the country, including right here in Chester County, and the need to do something to stem the violence.

State House Rep Chris Pielli (D-156) spoke first about the progress that has been made in the PA House, with the passage of two gun safety bills that ‘would save lives.’  The first bill that passed closed the loophole on long gun sales, like the AR15, that can be sold privately without a background check in PA.   The second bill that passed is an Extreme Risk Protection Order, that permits loved ones to petition the court to remove a gun from a family member in crisis.  Rep. Pielli spoke movingly about being a Vet, a gun owner, and the terrible rate of veteran suicide in the nation.  This ERPO bill could help prevent suicides.

Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan spoke powerfully about the many instances her office has had to deal with gun violence right here in Chester County.  Within the last year, she recounted the murder suicide of a family in Kennett Square.  DA Ryan stated the necessity of Safe Firearm storage with the tales of tragic death of a 4 year old finding a loaded gun and accidentally shooting himself in Coatesville,  and a 3 year old shooting himself in the leg.

A top aide for State Senator Carolyn Comitta (D-19), read a statement from the Senator.  She stated how important this issue has been to her for many years, and that she will do everything she can in the PA Senate to help pass these important bills into law.

Rev. Daryl Perry of Coatesville spoke powerfully of the loss of his 18 year old son to an unintentional shooting, and his need to speak up about the danger guns in the wrong hands poses to society and families.

Madeline Barbezat, an 18 year old senior and a member of March For Our Lives, spoke about how frustrating it is to be a student,  and the impact of growing up with active shooter drills and the many school shootings across the country.

In addition, a contingent of the rally goers marched afterwards to the Chester County GOP headquarters a few blocks away to protest the plans for raffling off an AR-15 rifle on June 14th.  Although the office was closed, they delivered a letter with 30 signatures asking to cancel the rally, and left chalk messages on the sidewalk with outlines of bodies.

Gun violence is in the news almost every day, and continues to claim the lives of 1600 Pennsylvanians every year, with 3 times that many shot and wounded.  A recent Fox News survey shows strong support for most gun safety laws:  87% for Universal Background Checks, and 80% for Red Flag Laws.  With public support, organizations like CeaseFirePA, Moms Demand Action, and March For Our Lives will continue to push for laws that will save lives.

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