Pittsburgh lawmaker wants action before answers are in

MikeGunner / Pixabay

While I maintain there were no mass shootings over the weekend, there was an incident in Pittsburgh that left two people dead. It was an ugly incident, without any doubt.

As it stands, authorities are still investigating this shooting.

Yet that isn’t stopping one recently elected official to start demanding action before there are answers.

Aerion Abney hasn’t even been sworn in as East Allegheny’s state representative. Now he’s having to help respond to one of the city’s largest mass shootings in its history.

Mr. Abney, a Democrat who was elected earlier this month to represent the 19th House District in a special election to replace former Rep. Jake Wheatley, won’t be sworn in as the area’s state representative until next week. Still, he’s begun his role as a leader for the area and will attend a community meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Allegheny Center Alliance Church to listen to residents’ concerns about the shooting.

As a newly elected state representative, Mr. Abney has begun researching what gun violence prevention bills he’ll support — and potential ways the state can further regulate short-term leases like Airbnbs.

“Ultimately, big picture, we just have to get these guns off the streets and out of the hands of kids,” Mr. Abney said in an interview Tuesday. “I’m really ready to take a long-term approach to the work and fix some of what is broken in some of our communities.”

Now, it’s unclear precisely what Abney means by “get these guns off the streets.” If he simply means getting guns out of criminal hands, then he should say so. Otherwise, one might think he’s advocating for gun control.

Which, of course, he probably is.

After all, some of his soon-to-be colleagues are pushing precisely that.

While investigators determine how a party on Pittsburgh’s North Side turned violent and left two teens dead, Mr. Abney and the city’s state lawmakers are highlighting gun violence prevention proposals and potential ways the state could regulate Airbnbs.

Several Democratic state lawmakers from the North Side and nearby districts told the Post-Gazette that most of their common-sense gun control measures are tied up in committee, and won’t get considered by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The No. 1 proposal the legislators said would help prevent a future shooting like this? Require gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearm shortly after they discover it’s missing, several lawmakers said. This would help mitigate straw purchases — or purchases made on behalf of another person — which is illegal, but still likely how minors obtain a firearm.

Straw purchases account for a tiny fraction of the firearms that end up in criminal hands.

In a 2019 survey, it was found that just 11 percent got their guns via a straw purchase. Meanwhile, almost half got them from either the black market or via their own theft of the firearm.

So what about Pittsburgh makes it easier for kids to get straw buyers to get them guns than everywhere else in the nation?

I may pick on the city a fair bit, but I’m guessing the answer is “nothing.”

The truth is, President Biden made a whole thing about straw purchases and now Democrats think that’s how guns get in criminal hands, despite the criminals themselves telling us something completely different.

As for Abney, it seems he’s well on his way to being a typical “public servant.” He’s demanding action before we even know what’s happened and the only action he can see is regulation.

Pittsburgh asked for that, too, so if they get screwed in the process, that’s on them.

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET