While federal gun control legislation appears to be going nowhere at the moment thanks to Democrats deciding to proceed with impeaching the president, gun control activists are still busy at the state level pushing an anti-gun agenda. In Pennsylvania this week, lawmakers heard two days of testimony from hundreds of individuals dealing with gun control, the 2nd Amendment, and mental health, and it appears that a “red flag” law may have a chance at passing in the Republican-controlled legislature, or at least one chamber.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) says she’s not on board with any “red flag” bill introduced in the Senate, but that could change.
Baker said Wednesday that she still has some concerns about the Senate version of the bill, authored by Sen. Tom Killion, R-Delaware.
She wants to ensure it will preserve due process rights, and that there are protections in place to ensure that sheriffs aren’t walking into danger when they go to seize someone’s firearms.
Baker said it’s premature for the committee to debate and vote on the bill before those concerns are addressed. But she added that such groups as the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association may have ideas for how to do that.
Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, shared Baker’s concerns in an interview Wednesday. But the former U.S. Marshal said he may be able to support the legislation if it’s amended to include a quicker time-frame for adjudication and appeal.
“If it was amended there’s certainly a possibility I could be for it,” Regan said.
Meanwhile, over on the House side of the capitol in Harrisburg, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee says there’s no way he’s bringing up “red flag” legislation in his committee.
“We see those as fighting words, not a final declaration,” Shira Goodman, executive director of Ceasefire PA, one of the state’s leading gun control advocacy groups, said about the Franklin County Republican’s declaration. “If that means we’ve got to battle in the Senate or try discharge petitions or try to amend other bills that are moving (to get an extreme risk order bill considered), we’re going to do it.”
While gun control groups can and will apply pressure at the statehouse, anti-gun lawmakers are also eager to try to make gun control legislation an election-year issue in 2020.
“We had the opportunity to take action on commonsense legislation that our communities want, but instead we considered bills that cater to special interests and won’t do anything to help us protect residents,” Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery County and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said during a rally at the Capitol Wednesday.
“Thousands of Pennsylvanians die each year from gun violence, and we have to do something about it. If House Republicans refuse to lead, they should get out of the way.”
Expect this talking point to be repeated in states around the country where Republicans haven’t embraced a gun control agenda; We need to “do something”, Republicans won’t “do something” we want, so they need to be replaced. At the moment, anti-gun activists may have polling on their side, but public opinion doesn’t equate to good legislation. Republicans in Pennsylvania (and other states) need to be able to make their case that the ideas advanced by so-called “gun safety” advocates are nothing more than plans to crack down on the legal ownership of firearms, while doing nothing to target or crack down on the violent criminals driving up the homicide rates in Philadelphia. If state legislators in Harrisburg are serious about tackling violent crime, they might start with the fact that 8 of the city’s 9 homicides this year have taken place within a third of a square mile in Pennsylvania’s capitol city. The violence in Harrisburg, like virtually every other city, is driven by a small number of individuals in a relatively small area of the city. Cracking down on legal gun ownership won’t do anything to stop the predators inflicting misery on the good people living in bad neighborhoods.