Op/Ed: Pennsylvania needs sensible gun laws

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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  1. Jerome Banks says:

    Tom Watson you are an uninformed leftist. Keep working to ban our rights. Which one are you willing to give up next?

    • Mike McGann says:

      Um, what right, exactly is being banned? Heller held that some guns could be restricted — so, I’m at a loss here. I think you may want to do your homework before calling someone else uniformed.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    The old joke goes something like this:

    PATIENT: (banging his head on the wall) “Doc, whenever I do this, my head hurts.”

    DOCTOR: “Stop doing that.”

    This cure seems to me as obvious as that for our problems with gun deaths.

    The doctor did not spend any time trying to analyze the mental health issues that led his patient to bang his head on the wall; he simply removed the instrumental means that caused the pain.

    So it is with gun deaths.

    The NRA/Republicans would have us believe that this is a mental health issue.

    You know, I’ll bet they’re right, in large measure, and I don’t care.

    I don’t care because the mental health issues of any individual don’t matter if that individual is deprived of the instrumental means to achieve his delusional goals.

    Get rid of the guns.

    The NRA/Republicans say that the solution is more guns.

    This is like saying that the solution to our pain is more head-banging.

    They also say that the ownership of guns is protected under the Constitution.

    It is not.

    The Second Amendment reads, in part:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    When the amendment was written in 1791 each state relied on individual citizens to have the ability to respond to the military needs of the state, in an ad hoc manner, with their own personal firearms.

    However, for over a hundred years we have had a National Guard, and they are the well-regulated militia.

    The language of the Second Amendment has been tortured by the NRA/Republicans to include the presumed right of individual citizens to bear arms.

    They have no such right.

    We must get rid of the guns.

    Do not be swayed by the dodges of the NRA/Republicans about addressing the mental health issues. They are secondary.

    Do not admire their claims of Constitutional protection. They are false.

    Get rid of the guns.


    Our country’s children are dying.

  3. David Cleary says:

    Representative Barrar suggested after the Congressional baseball shooting that getting a concealed carry permit was the solution. Not sure who is going to carry a pistol on them while they are practicing baseball, but that seemed like a logical solution to him. Is it possible that less guns may create a safer world for our children?

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