Pennsylvania Lawmakers Attempt To Step Up Gun Rights

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf isn’t a fan of the Second Amendment. He’s made that abundantly clear during his time in office, particularly by sitting with former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto while he made clear his intentions to violate state law by passing an assault weapon ban despite preemption.

Yet governors don’t make the laws, legislators do. That’s kind of why it’s called legislation (well, they’re called legislators because they pass legislation, but you get the idea).

Now, lawmakers in the state are stepping up to try and strengthen the Second Amendment there.

Two gun-related bills from Republicans expected to be voted on in the state Senate this week would expand concealed carry rights and allow anyone to sue Pennsylvania municipalities that enact firearm ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Gun-control groups warned the changes would pose a “deadly risk” to Pennsylvanians amid escalating gun violence. And Gov. Tom Wolf has said he would veto the measures. if the bills pass the Senate and then the House

There is already a state law that prohibits municipalities from trying to trump state gun rights, but the legislator behind the bill, state Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Cambria County, has said the bill is necessary because localities continue to pass such ordinances.

Gun safety advocates are lobbying against both bills, which are expected to be taken up by the Senate by Wednesday. Republicans control both the House and Senate.

Both bills were sent back to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

Of course, not everyone is fond of the bill.

Adam Garber, the executive director of CeaseFirePA, said there have been about 4,600 gun-related deaths in Pennsylvania over the last three years.

“The General Assembly should be looking for solutions, not policies that will make our communities and children less safe during a time of rising gun violence,” he said.

They are looking at solutions, though.

See, criminals are carrying guns without permits regardless of the laws. As a result, the law is putting the law-abiding at a tactical disadvantage. Someone who fears for their life in Pennsylvania has to jump through hoops before they can carry a firearm lawfully while the criminal intending to harm them just does.

It’s not the law-abiding that Garber should be concerned about, and I can’t help but wonder just how many of those 4,600 deaths in the last three years might have been prevented by someone being able to carry a firearm. Of course, I also wonder how many of those are suicides and thus completely irrelevant to the conversation; though two-thirds would be about typical based on the national rates.

So, obviously, I support both of these measures. I think they need to pass and become law.

I’m just not convinced that will happen.

While the GOP controls both chambers of the legislature, they don’t have a veto-proof majority. That means a lot of Democrats would have to come over while also having total fidelity among Republican members. I just don’t see that happening if Wolf were to veto such bills.

And let’s be honest, Wolf will veto them.

Further, with the way politics is divided, this isn’t one of those places where compromise will happen. Democrats won’t agree to this in exchange for Republicans siding with them on some other issue. Again, it’s just not going to happen.

Still, pro-gun lawmakers have to make it clear to their constituents that they’re trying. They have to pay the dues on something like this or else gun rights voters will view them as doing nothing to advance the Second Amendment.

It also puts Wolf in a position where no one can forget where he stands on the Second Amendment, which could hurt Democrats as a whole moving forward.