PA Moms Call On Republican Legislators To Act On Gun Safety Bills

Moms Demand Action Executive Director Angela Ferrell-Zabala speaking at a gun safety rally in the Pennsylvania State Capitol on Oct. 4, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

October 4, 2023

“The gun violence epidemic is not a McKeesport problem. It’s not a Philadelphia problem. It’s not a Pittsburgh problem. It’s a Pennsylvania problem and it’s uniquely an American problem,” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.

Moms Demand Action and gun safety activists filled the capitol rotunda in Harrisburg on Tuesday demanding movement from Senate Republicans on a pair of gun safety bills passed by House Democrats last June. The bills have been sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee since. 

At the time, the House passed emergency risk protection orders, which would allow family members or law enforcement to get a court order to temporarily remove firearms from someone if they are a risk to themselves or others, and universal background checks on all gun purchases, which closed the gun show loophole. 

“We’re here today because both the House and Senate are back in session, and we have spent all summer making calls, writing postcards, and visiting our senators,” said Gina Pelusi, a Moms Demand Action member who lost her mother to gun violence.

Pelusi believes that there is a path to passing meaningful gun safety reform, but is cautiously optimistic. They believe they have enough Republicans in the Senate to pass the two bills.

“We’ve met with several members of the Senate and we are cautiously optimistic. It’s like what Senator Williams said. The Senate Democrats want to vote for this bill. So that’s about four more we need to pick up and we believe there are Republican senators who are interested in voting for gun safety” said Pelusi.

Tuesday’s rally featured legislators from the House and Senate and those who have been impacted by gun violence. 

“Being a new dad is shaping my perspectives in new ways,” Lt. Gov. Austin Davis said during the rally. “It’s shocking to me that the number one cause of death for kids in America is firearms. It’s not car accidents, it’s not cancer. It’s guns.”

“The gun violence epidemic is not a McKeesport problem. It’s not a Philadelphia problem. It’s not a Pittsburgh problem. It’s a Pennsylvania problem and it’s uniquely an American problem,” Davis went on to say. 

Even though the crime and murder rates have been dropping in cities like Philadelphia since the middle of the pandemic, the city still sees significant gun violence. 

“For decades, the Republican-controlled general assembly has allowed an open season on Philadelphians by refusing to stop guns from flooding into our communities, ripping families apart and traumatizing entire neighborhoods” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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