Democrats in the Delaware Valley congressional delegation are on board with a gun-control package being considered during a House Judiciary Committee emergency hearing this week, calling the proposals “common-sense, constitutional measures” that could prevent future tragedies.
The panel is expected to consider an omnibus package of eight bills, dubbed the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” during a mark-up session Thursday before a full House vote.
It comes in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, where gunmen killed more than 30 people.
The bills contain proposals to raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high capacity magazines, require a registry for bump stocks, and tighten federal firearms regulations to apply to so-called “ghost guns.”
It would establish new safe home firearms storage requirements and provide a tax credit to those who purchase the secure storage devices.
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) called the proposals “common sense” legislation that could help avert future shootings like the one in Texas that claimed 19 schoolkids and two teachers.
That massacre came after 18-year-old Payton Gendron gunned down 10 Black grocers at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., in a hate-fueled attack that was streamed online.
“Our duty in Congress is to protect America’s kids—not gun manufacturers’ profits,” Scanlon told Delaware Valley Journal. “I refuse to sit back and watch preventable tragedies play out day after day, year after year. It’s not just horrific mass shootings like those in Buffalo and Uvalde but also the gun violence that wreaks havoc on our communities, unchecked, every day.
“We are not hopeless. We can change this. The ‘Protecting, Our Kids Act’ includes common sense, constitutional measures to address a range of steps we can take right now to prevent gun violence. There is no single magical solution to end the epidemic of gun violence, but there’s much we can do.
“The only unacceptable response is inaction. I look forward to beginning the markup process for this package and invite all of my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to show the American people that they’re serious about saving lives,” she said.
The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on the bills next week, CBS News reported.
The package faces long odds in the evenly-divided Senate, with most Republicans likely opposed to sweeping gun control measures. And President Joe Biden has not helped, making repeated gaffes that critics say feed fears among Second Amendment advocates. For example, Biden said there is no “rational basis” to own guns that fire 9-millimeter ammunition — among the most common weapons in the country.
“The .22 caliber bullet will lodge in the lungs, and we can get it out. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body. The idea of a high caliber weapon, there is simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting,” Biden said.
The White House was forced to walk back his statement and assure the public the president doesn’t support a ban on handgun sales.
Tim Mack, a spokesman for Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), called the House proposals “incredibly vital.” He added the gunman in Buffalo had “no business at that age having access” to what Biden called “weapons of war.”
“We think that it’s something that’s incredibly vital given the two previous mass shootings. They bring us all a lot of sadness,” Mack said.
Aubrey Suber, a spokeswoman for Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester), said Houlahan supports the gun control bill.
“Sadly, there are too many elected officials who have accepted this uniquely American tragedy as inevitable,” Houlahan posted on her website. “But we can prevent this. We can prevent town names from being forever remembered by bloodshed and tragedy; first responders from walking into carnage; parents shrieking after learning their child didn’t survive. And we have the roadmap to do it.”
“It starts with passing universal background checks, a commonsense reform that over 90 percent of Americans agree on,” she said. “The refusal of Republicans in the Senate to consider this legislation is, in no uncertain terms, deadly. I stand ready, again, to work with my colleagues on action of any kind and show our students and educators we care. To the small number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle willing to find a way forward: thank you.”
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) did not respond to requests for comment outlining his position on the proposed gun reform package.
However, Fitzpatrick released a statement following the Uvlade tragedy offering condolences to the families of the victims and calling on lawmakers to “find a solution” to the nation’s gun issue.
“You can never truly adjust to the loss of a loved one’s life that has ended too soon. My prayers are with the families of those who died, and I hope that we can work together as a country to find a solution that protects our children and citizens from the evils of unnecessary violence,” he said.