Pennsylvania lawmakers must listen to faith leaders and get guns out of children’s hands | PennLive Editorial
The Very Reverend Amy Welin, Dean of St. Stephens Episcopal Cathedral, spoke the unvarnished truth this week. She said the gun situation in Harrisburg had become intolerable and it was time for believers to pressure lawmakers to do something about it.
Rev. Welin stood with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Audrey Scanlon, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, and a group of interfaith leaders in Harrisburg, near where a 16-year-old boy was shot three times last month during a shootout.
The shooting happened around 2 a.m. Aug. 7 behind St. Stephens, one of downtown’s iconic shrines, and it rocked Harrisburg’s religious community. Many see the shots coming closer and closer to the city center and the sanctity of historic cathedrals.
The gunshots are also closing in on the Capitol, and lawmakers would do well to take notice.
Reverend Tom Sweet, pastor of Market Square Presbyterian Church, felt compelled to add his voice to respected religious leaders calling on lawmakers to act to stop gun violence. Behzad Zandieh, a respected leader of the Baha’i community, did the same; as well as Ariana Capptauber, rabbi of Beth El Synagogue.
The fact is, more and more central Pennsylvania faith leaders are demanding that elected life safety officials do what needs to be done to get guns out of the hands of children on the streets of Harrisburg and other cities. of Pennsylvania. And Christian leaders like the Reverend Eric Jackson make it clear that the voices of the “Christian right” who reject gun laws do not speak for all Christians.
Reverend Jackson thinks most Christians support laws that allow responsible people to own guns, but keep them away from children, criminals and the mentally ill.
Reverend Jackson, along with the Harrisburg chapter of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, and Bryan Miller, executive director of the Philadelphia office, are leading what they say is an interfaith movement to pressure the Pennsylvania legislature to she acts. They make it clear that the votes of many people of faith are at stake.
Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFire PA, believes such voices could have a significant impact on the Pennsylvania legislature this year.
Garber told PennLive’s editorial board that there’s one simple thing lawmakers could do to have a serious impact on people who get guns in the Commonwealth. They could track gun sales and do more to make sure dealers don’t get guns into the wrong hands.
Garber says new studies show that a small number of gun dealers in Pennsylvania are responsible for a large portion of the guns used to commit crimes. A Lehigh Valley couple allegedly sold more than 40 guns to people who shouldn’t have been able to buy them, including a 17-year-old who used the gun to kill himself.
CeaseFire PA wants lawmakers to rein in irresponsible arms dealers. He wants tougher laws to make it mandatory to report lost or stolen guns, and he wants the Legislature to pass a red flag law to help families keep guns away from loved ones who may be mentally unstable. . This is common sense.
Now, with so many influential religious leaders demanding concrete action to stop shootings like the one last month behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral, lawmakers might feel enough pressure to act.
But if the voices of a respected rabbi, pastors and voting congregants aren’t enough to sway Pennsylvania lawmakers, maybe a few million dollars from Washington might do the trick.
If lawmakers find ways to pass a red flag law, Pennsylvania could get a share of $750 million in federal funds that Congress just approved in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to support such efforts.
Anyway, CeaseFire PA and Reverend Welin are right. Pennsylvania lawmakers must act now to get guns out of the hands of children and anyone else who simply shouldn’t have them.
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