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As deaths rise, a new call for gun reform. Will Republicans listen? | Wednesday Morning Coffee

‘Pennsylvania’s leaders must step up to do their part,’ Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday

April 27, 2022 7:11 am

Gov. Tom Wolf (center) joined advocates and local officials on Tuesday, 4/26/22, where they called on state lawmakers to pass long-sought gun violence reduction measures (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The tragic epidemic of gun violence, taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has been one of the more widely reported storylines of the last two years.

Yet, despite a record death toll in Pennsylvania’s largest city last year, and data showing gun violence rates jumped by 30 percent during the first year of the pandemic, bills aimed at addressing the plague of violence have languished in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

Apparently undeterred, a Philadelphia lawmaker is taking a fresh run at an old gun violence-deterrence measure: a ban on the sale and possession of the kind of large-capacity magazines that have been a sickening fixture of many mass shootings.

“As many as two-thirds of mass shootings may have involved large capacity ammunition magazines,” the proposal’s sponsor, Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphiawrote in a Tuesday memo seeking support for his proposal. “But mass shootings are not the only threat posed by these pieces of equipment. 40 percent of law enforcement officers killed from 2009 to 2013 were killed by a firearm equipped with a large capacity ammunition magazine.”

If the legislation sounds familiar, that’s because Boyle offered a similar proposal during the 2019-2020 legislative session, where it promptly vanished without a trace.

The bill’s introduction comes just about a week after Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert confirmed that an AR-15 style weapon was among the firearms used during an Easter weekend shooting at an Airbnb that left two teenagers dead and wounded others, the Tribune-Review reported. 

The long guns typically hold 30 rounds, but can hold up to 100 rounds with modifications, WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh reported.

(Commonwealth Media Services photo)

On Tuesday, amid a steady rain, Gov. Tom Wolf joined advocates, survivors, and elected officials for a midday rally on the Capitol steps, where they called on the Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass a suite of long-sought gun violence reduction measures, including a ‘Red Flag’ law, universal background checks, and a measure requiring people to report lost and stolen weapons to law enforcement.

“Pennsylvania’s leaders must step up to do their part. I have used all of the executive action at my disposal to curb gun violence in Pennsylvania, but it’s not enough,” Wolf said in a statement released by his office. “It’s far past time for our Republican-led General Assembly to take action on commonsense gun violence laws rather than pushing dangerous legislation that puts more lives on the line.”

Last fall, on the eve of the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Wolf and his allies issued a similar call to lawmakers, which also fell on deaf ears at the time.

Since then, only more people have died as a result of firearms violence.

(Commonwealth Media Services Photo)

In a statement, Adam Garber, the executive director of the gun violence reduction group, CeaseFirePa, said lawmakers could not allow the mounting toll of violence to become the state’s “new normal.”

“Government’s first responsibility is guaranteeing the safety of the people,” Garber said. “While [Wolf] invests in violence prevention programs and vetoes legislation that would worsen the epidemic, the legislative majority refuses to even discuss how to save lives.”

If Boyle’s bill ever actually came to a vote, and was signed into law, a prospect that is admittedly remote given the state’s current political topography, Pennsylvania would join the company of such states as California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York, which also have enacted similar restrictions.

“It is my hope that this legislation will help prevent future mass casualties such as those we have seen in mass shootings, as well as make our communities safer overall,” Boyle wrote in his memo to his House colleagues.

To borrow a phrase: Wouldn’t it be pretty to think so.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, speaking at a Capitol news conference on Thursday, 7/29/21 (C-Span screen capture)

Our Stuff.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th Districtplayed a “key” role in efforts to topple the 2020 election results, and pushed to get the country’s top intelligence official to investigate baseless conspiracy theories, according to a newly published report. Story from me.

From our Legislating Is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Other Plans Desk: The state House has approved a Republican-authored bill limiting Philadelphia’s elected district attorney (and only Philadelphia) to two, four-year terms, Cassie Miller reports.

After staging a sit-in to protest the lack of action on Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic, state Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphiawill hold a sit-down with Mayor Jim Kenney, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

Staff Reporter Marley Parish has more from Monday night’s Republican U.S. Senate debate, running down where the five candidates who showed up stand on such key issues as the 2020 election, President Joe Biden’s pandemic policies, and immigration.

During their own debate on Monday night, the Democrats running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania agreed on abortion access, but split on on expanding the U.S. Supreme Court and abolishing the Electoral College, Marley Parish also reports.

Our partners at Armchair Lehigh Valley profile the GOP state Senate primary between Senate Appropriations Committee Chairperson Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and suburban Allentown school board member Jarrett Coleman.

President Joe Biden issued the first pardons and commutations of his presidency on Tuesday. Two incarcerated people from Philadelphia were among the beneficiaries, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz explains how a shuttered restroom at a Pittsburgh grocery store tells you all you need to know about structural racism in the U.S.A. And Robert Reich has some tips on how you can stand up against the silent coup put forth by the GOP.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

Elsewhere.
In the face of a staffing shortage and mounting gun violence the Philadelphia Police Department has asked for a $24 million budget increase, the Inquirer reports.

State System of Higher Education Chancellor Daniel Greenstein has asked state lawmakers to support a budget increase, the Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive runs down Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate debate at Dickinson College.

PoliticsPA asks its readers, meanwhile, to pick the winner from Tuesday night’s GOP Senate faceoff.

State regulators are investigating more cases of avian flu in Lancaster County, which is expected to impact poultry prices nationwideLancasterOnline reports.

A former York County 911 employee has alleged harassment and wrongful termination, the York Daily Record reports (subscriber-only).

The Morning Call runs down the top 4 things the Allentown School District wants to do over the next three years.

The Citizens’ Voice looks at the push to open the state’s primary elections to independent voters.

The Biden administration has appointed Philadelphia’s crusading pandemic physician, Dr. Ala Stanfordto run its regional Department of Health & Human Services officeWHYY-FM reports.

The pandemic ‘erased’ a decade of public preschool gainsNPR reports (via WITF-FM).

After reaching a mediated settlement, Hannah Silbaugh, who was kicked by Erie police in a protest after the 2020 election, has asked a federal judge to restart her trialGoErie reports.

Stateline explains how the pandemic has prompted states to require financial literacy classes.

Talking Points Memo has five points to ponder over Russia’s threat to expand its war into Moldova.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On
The House comes in at 11 a.m. today.
10 a.m., Capitol Media Center: Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton on bills aiding sexual assault survivors.
12 p.m., Capitol Steps: Rally for parole and probation reform

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast for GOP LG candidate Jeff Coleman
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Ben Sanchez
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Rich Krajewski
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Perry Stambaugh
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Parke Wentling
8 a.m.: Breakfast for House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton
6:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Emily Kinkead
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a truly appalling $23,000 today.

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf, joined by lawmakers, survivors, and advocates holds an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day observance in the Reception Room.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out this morning to Stacy Kriedeman at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, who completes another trip around the sun today.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one from Barenaked Ladies for your Wednesday. From their most recent LP ‘Detour de Force,’ it’s ‘Here Together,’ which features a lead vocal from bassist Jim Creegan.


Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Carolina Hurricanes pipped the New York Rangers 4-3 on Tuesday night, as the ‘Canes consolidated their hold over the Metropolitan Division.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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