Pennsylvania

What Pennsylvania elected officials are saying about gun reform in the wake of shootings

Gun control activists rally in front of U.S. Capitol after El Paso, Dayton mass shootings

Some 2,000 moms and activists in Washington, D.C. for the annual Moms Demand Action conference gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest gun violence prompted by two mass shootings over the weekend. "Not one more," they shouted.
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Some 2,000 moms and activists in Washington, D.C. for the annual Moms Demand Action conference gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest gun violence prompted by two mass shootings over the weekend. "Not one more," they shouted.

Two U.S. senators from Pennsylvania and the state’s governor advocated for legislative gun reform Monday after two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

A gunman killed 22 people at a shopping center Saturday in El Paso, Texas, and injured more than two dozen others. One day later, a gunman wearing body armor killed nine people at a nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio.

U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) both said changes are needed to federal law. Those in public office have an obligation to do more and take action on gun violence, Casey said in a statement.

“While we do not know that any one law or series of laws will eliminate the possibility of a mass shooting, we know that passing common sense gun reform can reduce the likelihood of mass shootings,” Casey said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We don’t have to live like this. Politicians who refuse to take action to reduce gun violence are complicit in this carnage. If we’re going to truly confront this uniquely American problem, we have to speak uncomfortable truths.”

Congress’ first priority, Casey said, should be to pass universal background checks, limit the size of magazines and ban military-style assault weapons.

The shootings are the “latest, horrific examples of the violent scourge that is gripping” the nation, Toomey said in a statement posted on his social media pages. He called the shooters “cowards” and said legislators must do more to “keep guns out of the hands of psychopaths.”

Legislators should pass bipartisan proposals to expand background checks to all commercial firearm sales, Toomey wrote in an effort to revise the defeated gun background check bill he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) introduced in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings six years ago. He also said a “red flag” measure should be passed to enable families and law enforcement to obtain a court order to keep guns away from “dangerous individuals.”

“This morning, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and I separately discussed with President Donald Trump our support for passing our bipartisan legislation to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, and terrorists, while respecting the second amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and all Americans,” Toomey said Monday in a statement. “The president showed a willingness to work with us on the issue of strengthening background checks.”

In a written statement, Gov. Tom Wolf said the state and the country have failed to adequately respond to gun violence. Federal and state government must react to “escalating gun violence,” he said.

Combating poverty, increasing opportunity in struggling communities, strengthening the state’s hate crime laws, targeting domestic terrorism and white nationalism, and investing in the state’s mental health system are among Wolf’s proposals.

“But we cannot limit our action to any one of these problems, either,” Wolf said. “This crisis demands swift, but comprehensive, reforms. We know what we are doing now is not enough. The status quo is costing people their lives and robbing many Americans of their peace of mind and freedom to live their daily lives without fear. We cannot accept this violence and fear as normal. We must take action.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Howard Township) said the shootings were a “senseless, gut-wrenching tragedy,” and extended his sympathies to the families of the victims, including St. Francis graduate student Nicholas Cumer. U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-Kreamer) said he was he was “saddened” by the shootings and thankful for first responders and law enforcement who “acted swiftly to bring these terrorist acts to justice.”

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.
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