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COUNTERPOINT: Restricting Second Amendment Rights Isn’t Solution to Mass Shootings

For an alternate point of view see: POINT: Addressing Gun Violence: Beyond Mental Health Rhetoric

In the aftermath of a tragedy, the search for solutions can often lead to extreme measures.

The recent heartbreaking shooting in Maine has left my fellow New Englanders grieving from an extraordinary loss. It’s a harsh reminder of the profound impact of senseless violence. However, the key to reducing gun violence doesn’t lie in restricting law-abiding citizens’ self-defense rights through more laws on top of the hundreds of existing federal and state laws across the nation.

Instead, our nation looks to the approach we take in neighboring New Hampshire. In the Granite State, we focus on bolstering the enforcement of our existing laws and providing more mental health support for those at risk of violence.

Red flag laws, which allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals considered to be a threat to themselves or others, are touted as a means to enhance public safety. However, many question their effectiveness and disapprove of infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of upholding the Second Amendment, ruling that certain gun restrictions are unconstitutional. Furthermore, recent federal court decisions have blocked California’s assault weapon ban, highlighting the potential for well-intentioned laws to have unintended consequences. That backdrop underscores the need for a thoughtful evaluation of any new law’s impact on constitutional rights.

More gun restrictions don’t automatically lead to safer communities. Just look at many of our nation’s cities and states with the largest number of gun laws that have some of the nation’s highest rates of gun violence.

One major issue raising questions about red flag laws is their broad scope, which often results in infringing on individuals’ rights. These laws have been criticized for their lack of specificity and potential for misuse. When red flag warnings prioritize appeasement over addressing root causes, they may lead to unjust violations of an individual’s Second Amendment rights. The risk of false accusations or the weaponization of these laws against innocent individuals is a legitimate concern that cannot be ignored.

Another issue that requires serious attention is the abysmal rate at which the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes gun crimes. While red flag laws may be touted as a solution to gun violence, it is essential to address the systemic problems within the justice system that impede the prosecution of these crimes.

An overburdened legal system and a lack of resources dedicated to prosecuting gun offenses contribute to a situation in which dangerous individuals may escape the consequences of their actions.

However, there is an approach that works, one New Hampshire has taken for nearly a decade. Instead of relying on red flag laws, my state has enhanced public safety through the strong enforcement of the existing gun laws already on the books. Focusing on stricter implementation and comprehensive enforcement mechanisms for these laws is a more effective approach to preventing gun violence than leaving citizens defenseless. By ensuring that individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms are unable to acquire them, we can mitigate potential threats and allow for self-defense in necessary circumstances.

The reality is that to address and reduce gun violence, our nation needs to focus on expanding mental health services and ensuring current gun laws are appropriately and consistently enforced. Addressing the root causes of gun violence, such as untreated mental health issues, is a more productive and compassionate way to promote public safety. Providing mental health resources and support can help individuals in crisis receive the help they need, ultimately preventing violence and tragedy.

Our state has a responsibility to invest in the mental well-being of its citizens, as it is directly linked to public safety. By addressing the mental health crisis at its core, we can reduce the likelihood of individuals reaching a point where they pose a threat to themselves or others better than any law could ever assure.

NM Gov. Uses Emergency Power to Override Gun Rights. Could PA’s Shapiro Do the Same?

When New Mexico Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a 30-day “public health emergency” restricting gun rights and overriding state gun laws, some Pennsylvanians wondered: Could her fellow Democrat, Gov. Josh Shapiro, use the Keystone Sate’s emergency powers laws to do the same?

As recently as June, Shapiro was in Delaware County advocating for more restrictive gun laws. And Philadelphia’s soaring violent crime rate is higher than the crime in Albuquerque, which inspired Lujan Grisham to declare an emergency.

Could Shapiro repeat the restrictive, months-long COVID lockdowns put in place by his predecessor, Gov. Tom Wolf (D)?

According to Pennsylvania political observers and analysts, the answer is not likely.

“The governor is subject to the same laws as every other Pennsylvanian and every other elected official,” Matt Brouillette, president & CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, told DVJournal. “He took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution, so any action he takes must be in accordance with the constitution, both state and national, and with all current laws. He has no authority to suspend laws.”

Pennsylvania voters approved stricter limits on the governor’s ability to declare an emergency in 2021. The state constitution sets a 21-day limit on all crisis proclamations. Those declarations cannot be extended except by a concurrent resolution of the General Assembly. The governor is prevented from issuing new disaster emergency declarations on the same topic with General Assembly permission.

House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler said he believes the constitutional limits make Pennsylvania a freer state.

“Before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans in the General Assembly, and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in particular, have been stalwart defenders of freedom and liberty and the need to follow the constitution and the rule of law,” he said in a statement to DVJournal. “We will always hold officials accountable by whatever legal means we have when they overstep.”

Maine Policy recently reviewed what states have the most and least powerful emergency powers laws for their governors to wield. It ranked Pennsylvania 10th least powerful, up from 43rd in 2021. South Carolina ranked first in the nation, while Vermont was dead last.

“The restrictions on the timeline are really key,” Commonwealth Foundation Policy Analysis Director Elizabeth Stelle said. “There’s only so much a governor can do in a 21-day period.” She added that putting the limits in the state constitution sets a higher bar “to get around than if it was just in a state statute.”

In New Mexico, Lujan Grisham suspended all open and concealed carry gun laws around Albuquerque for 30 days, with exceptions for law enforcement. The move has been roundly criticized, with multiple lawsuits filed.

“It is extremely clear that Grisham knows she is operating outside of constitutional bounds, especially after last summer’s Bruen ruling, which specifically protected individuals’ rights to carry firearms outside the home,” the National Association for Gun Rights said in a statement.

While both Lujan Grisham and Shapiro are Democrats, he appears to have earned a great deal of trust from friends and critics alike.

“Gov. Shapiro is a ‘thinker,’” says Bruce Castor Jr., former acting Pennsylvania Attorney Generalm who also served ad Montgomery County DA. He’s now in private practice. “By that, I mean he does not do “crazy” things…Our governor, I believe, will have already decided what the limitations are on his authority and would not do anything as obviously contrary to the law as the governor in New Mexico is reported to have done.”

The courts or the legislature would likely get involved should a Pennsylvania governor decide to do their best imitation of Lujan Grisham.

“Absolutely,” declared Castor. “Not just the General Assembly, or individuals within the General Assembly. Also, people aggrieved by any supposed unconstitutional act would go to court to challenge that exercise of authority.”

Stelle is confident in the system currently in place. She warns executive overreach won’t necessarily be immediately tossed. “In the past, those questions have played out through many months of litigation. I would suspect the same thing would happen in Pennsylvania, regardless of the political makeup that there would be pushback from the party that’s not the governor’s party.”

Shapiro’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Shapiro did defend former Cov. Wolf’s COVID orders while serving as state attorney general but said during his gubernatorial campaign that he didn’t agree with them.

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Senate Republicans Launch Pro-Gun Second Amendment Caucus

Republicans in the state Senate have launched what’s being billed as a pro-gun caucus that its chairman says will work to counteract gun misinformation in the state government.

The Second Amendment Caucus will give its members “more opportunities to become actively involved in protecting and strengthening lawful firearms ownership,” Sen. Chris Dush (R-Cameron) said in a press release announcing the association.

Dush and 13 other senators—all Republicans serve as inaugural caucus members.

Dush told DVJournal he would be working to get more Democrats involved in the caucus, noting that the state House’s Second Amendment caucus, on which he previously served, has included Democrats as well as Republicans.

Dush said the newly formed caucus has no immediate legislative aims and instead focuses on promoting accurate firearm education.

“What we want to do is get together and start planning a way to deal with the misinformation coming from the left about weapons,” Dush said.

“The phrase about ‘gun violence,’ it’s about violence, period,” he argued. “Our society is going through social contagions with psychological issues and everything, and the violence isn’t just limited to firearms. The left, though, is using this increase in violence as an opportunity to try and focus on the instrument rather than the root causes of what’s causing the psychological issues.”

“We need to make sure that we’re getting the message out that we need to address the core issues that are the causes, and we need to remind people of why the Second Amendment and Article I, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania state constitution are there in the first place.”

The state constitutional article referenced by Dush, among the oldest gun rights provisions in the United States, stipulates that “the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” Gun advocates have pointed to this early code as evidence of the country’s longstanding culture of individual gun rights.

Dush argued that modern Pennsylvania is rife with gun laws in contrast to its pro-gun roots.

“Pennsylvania’s got more laws on the books dealing with firearms than you can shake a stick at,” he said. “I think if you just printed out the sections of the various codes that deal with firearms, and just those sections, I think it’s several inches thick.”

One of the problems with gun violence in the state, Dush said, is prosecutors don’t aggressively follow through with gun charges.

“We don’t have the prosecutors going after these things,” he said, claiming that the state sees “so many rap sheets of firearm charges” with hefty “mandatory minimum sentences,” and prosecutors end up “just dropping them over and over and over.”

“And you have guys who were repeat offenders whose firearms charges were never prosecuted,” he added. “If they start prosecuting those and going after those mandatory minimum sentences in the first place, you would see a drop in firearms used in the commission of a crime.”

Dush said the caucus is not looking to make splashy efforts to pass gun control laws, particularly as the House and Governor’s Office remain in Democratic hands.

“I’m not going to put stuff out there just to gain headlines,” he said. “If it hasn’t been introduced, we’re probably not going to unless someone comes out with something novel.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro has indicated his support for gun control laws. As attorney general, he voiced support for what he said was “a state’s authority to protect its citizens and establish gun safety laws.” Before his inauguration as governor, he suggested pursuing at least some gun regulations while in office.

Earlier this year, Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) introduced an “assault weapons” ban meant to ban dozens of models of popular rifles in the state. Last month the state House passed two gun control laws: A “red flag” law and a universal background check law. Those bills remain pending in the Senate.  

On June 12, at 11 a.m. on the front steps of the state capitol, the Pennsylvania Senate and House Second Amendment Caucus, Dush, and Rep. Abby Major (R-Armstrong/Westmoreland), along with other pro-Second Amendment legislators, will join with law-abiding firearm owners from across the commonwealth for the 2023 Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally.

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DelVal Senator Calls U.S. Gun Rights ‘Global Embarrassment’ During PCN Debate

Delaware Valley state Sens. Anthony Williams (D-Philaldelphia/Delaware) and Cris Dush (R-Centre) faced off on Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) on Tuesday evening to debate gun rights in the Keystone State, including Dush’s proposal to allow citizens in the state to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

At issue was Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution which states, “The right of the citizen to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.”

Dush is sponsoring a bill in the state Senate that would allow “every person” in Pennsylvania to carry a firearm without a license so long as they are not legally barred from owning the gun.

State Sen. Cris Dush (R-Centre)

Dush argued that “the people who have a lawful ability to carry a firearm in the commonwealth, they shouldn’t have to have a permit. The people who are already lawfully able to carry a firearm, they can do so [under the bill].”

“Those who are not lawfully able, they’re not going to pay attention to any law on the book anyway,” he added.

Williams claimed America’s gun rights have made the nation a global laughingstock.

“The further allowance of armament by Americans is the bane of our existence and the embarrassment of America globally,” he said. “The global community laughs at us. We have more regulations to drink, to smoke a cigarette, and to drive a car in Pennsylvania than we do to buy a gun.”

The two senators debated for over an hour, including taking questions from callers.

Williams said the U.S. has “too many illegal guns, too many illegally purchased guns, and too many people who shouldn’t own a gun. We have to acknowledge that we have a problem.”

Dush said focusing on guns as the ultimate source of violence in the U.S. is misguided.

“As a society, the things that we need to start addressing, they need to actually address the problems,” he said. “Pieces of equipment, that’s not actually the problem.” He argued that breakdowns in family structure and mental health issues were driving violence in communities nationwide.

The politicians also traded arguments regarding the constitutional basis for gun ownership in the U.S.

Dush said the Second Amendment is “there to protect the citizenry from people who abuse their power,” a contention with which Williams sharply disagreed.

“We’re having to debate about people arming themselves against the government. That’s chilling,” Williams said.

Dush’s bill—Senate Bill 357—is part of a recent flurry of laws passed by GOP legislators nationwide to codify so-called “constitutional carry” into law.

Residents of most states have long been required to obtain a license in order to carry a concealed weapon. But pro-gun Republicans have recently moved to abolish those provisions and allow unregulated concealed carry.

The United States Concealed Carry Association says as of January 1 of this year, a majority of states—26 in total—allow permit-free concealed carry.

Gun critics have claimed the proliferation of such laws contributes to a surge in violence in the United States, though the RAND Corporation says that evidence that permissive gun laws increase violent crime and homicides are “inconclusive” and “limited.”

Two DelVal Dems Want Mandatory Background Check to Buy Ammo

Guns don’t kill people. Bullets do.

At least that’s the thinking behind legislation proposed by two Delaware Valley Democrats who are turning their sights on rising gun violence by attempting to restrict access to ammunition.

State Sens. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) and John Kane (Delaware/Chester) are sponsoring two bills to make it harder to buy ammo.

The first bill would require the Pennsylvania State Police to perform background checks on anyone who wants to purchase ammunition, just as they do background checks for those who buy guns. The second would require identification to prove ammunition buyers are 18 or 21, depending on the type of ammunition they want to buy. The lawmakers say sellers are not currently required to ask for ID in such cases.

In signing statements advocating their proposals, Haywood and Kane cited the mass shooting at Philadelphia’s Roxborough High School last September. Police said at least six people – five gunmen and a getaway driver – were involved in the ambush of 14-year-old football player Nicolas Elizalde.

According to police, the shooter simply walked into a Philadelphia gun shop and bought the ammo used in the shooting despite being a convicted felon.

“Although Pennsylvania law bars an individual with a felony record from purchasing firearms or ammunition, the Commonwealth does not regulate the sale or purchase of bullets,” a police statement said.

Asked for additional comments by DVJournal,  the two senators stood by their signing statements.

Jim Stoker, the president of Pennsylvania-based Firearms Owners Against Crime, believes the bills are “absolutely not” necessary.

“First of all, we know that background checks don’t do anything to stop crime,” said Stoker. “That’s been proven time and time again. The bad guys traditionally don’t source their guns through retailers because they have to identify themselves. If it doesn’t work with firearms, it’s certainly not going to make a difference with ammunition.

“Registering ammunition or serializing ammunition through microstamping just means they will be able to identify who bought the ammunition at a store,” he continued. “It’s not going to change the course of where that ammunition goes, where the bad guys get their ammunition.

“It’s certainly going to add an expense or an intrusion on the Second Amendment or, in our case, Article 1, Section 21 in Pennsylvania,” Stoker added. “So, once again, they’re going to add fees and do what they can to inconvenience the law-abiding citizens of the commonwealth while having zero impact on criminals or crime across the state.”

The senators insist their proposal is both modest and effective.

“Gun violence is prevalent in America, and its web of impact reaches everyone, including children. Forty-eight children under the age of 19 are shot every day in the United States, resulting in 2,900 deaths and 14,500 injuries each year. Folks, these are kids that we’re talking about.”

Stephen Gutowski of The Reload, one of the nation’s leading news sites on gun policy, says the idea has already been tried.

“Ammunition background checks are extremely uncommon throughout the country given their redundant nature since gun sales at licensed dealers already require background checks,” Gutowski said. “California is one of the few states that require background checks for ammo purchases.

“And it’s very unlikely that a proposal like this will go anywhere in the Pennsylvania legislature,” he added.

Haywood and Kane called the ID bill “common sense requirement to protect children and all Pennsylvanians from gun violence. This legislation would require all individuals to provide an official form of photographic identification with every purchase of firearm ammunition in the commonwealth. In addition, it would reinforce current law to ensure that firearm ammunition is not sold to underage children.”

Stoker said that most stores already have an ID policy to buy ammunition.

“The stores protect themselves by requiring ID already,” he said. “It’s beyond redundant. If the law is already on the books, why do we need another one?

“We know the vast majority of crimes in Pennsylvania are perpetrated by the same offenders over and over again,” Stoker continued. “Why don’t we do something about that instead of going after the grandpa that wants to take his gun out with his grandson and teach him how to hunt deer?”

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Kenney’s Complaints About Job, Second Amendment Spark Backlash

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney wants to live in an America without the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In fact, he even has a name for this place. “Canada.”

Kenney made his comments to reporters on July 4th after two police officers were struck by gunfire at the Wawa Welcome America Concert on the Parkway.

“It was a chilled-back day, beautiful weather. But we live in America where we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want,” the mayor said. “I was in Canada two weeks ago and never thought about a gun. The only people I knew who had guns in Canada were police officers.”

Kenney added, “If I had the ability to take care of guns, I would. But the legislature won’t let us. Congress won’t let us. The governor does the best he can. The attorney general does the best he can. But this is a gun country.”

In the same conversation, Kenney also complained about his job and said he will be “happy” when he is no longer mayor

“There’s not an event or a day where I don’t lay on my back and look at the ceiling and worry about stuff,” he said. “So everything we have in the city for the last seven years, I worry about. I don’t enjoy the 4th of July. I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t enjoy the NFL draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, called on Kenney to “immediately resign.”

“Mayor Kenney should resign from office. Kenney’s comments about how he will be happy when he is no longer mayor further indicate he has given up on Philadelphia. John Fetterman, Larry Krasner, and Jim Kenney all support the failed policies that coddle criminals, provide sanctuary to dangerous illegal aliens and put dangerous criminals back out on the street. These radical far-left policies have led to record-breaking homicides and unprecedented rates of violent crime in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth. Worse still, Fetterman would go further by releasing one-third of all criminals and reducing sentences for murderers. We need to restore safety and security to Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania–it begins by getting rid of Kenney, Krasner, and Fetterman.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is the Democratic candidate for the Senate. He did not directly address Kenney’s remarks or Oz’s rebuke. Instead, he railed against “gun violence” on Twitter and called for an end to the Senate filibuster.

“There is a sad irony in experiencing multiple mass shootings on a day meant to celebrate our freedom. We wish the law enforcement officers injured in the Philly shooting a safe + quick recovery,” Fetterman tweeted.

“We cannot become numb to ever-increasing gun violence. Washington needs to act + take on the NRA by prosecuting gun dealers whose weapons routinely wind up at crime scenes. And Democrats in the Senate need to scrap the filibuster + immediately pass common-sense reform,” said Fetterman.

Kenney’s attack on the Second Amendment drew responses from residents of the Delaware Valley.

“I saw a movie about a country where only the police and military had guns. It was called ‘Schindler’s List,’” said Wayne resident and firearms instructor Frank Tait.

“His failure to put competent leadership in the Philly Police Department. And to have a progressive DA only exasperated this crime problem,” said a Radnor resident who collects antique firearms. “Revolving door justice and letting repeat offenders of serious crimes out on no bail is a joke. Only when the Feds stepped into the car carjacking crimes have strong sentences been imposed. But Philly people get what they vote for. When you have an 18 percent turnout in a primary (in the DA’s race), that speaks volumes. Maybe he’d be better off in Canada?”

Kim Stolfer, president of Firearm Owners Against Crime,  was unimpressed by Kenney’s comments. “Well, thankfully, it isn’t up to him. And thankfully, he owns all the violence that’s in Philadelphia.

“The fact is, this is part of the broad brush that is being used by Democrats to paint 100 million gun owners in this country for a dozen mass murders,” Stolfer added.

The Republican nominee for Congress in the 4th District, Christian Nascimento, also called on Kenney to resign.

“Jim Kenney has given up on stopping crime. He has given up on Philadelphia. He has given up on police and their families. Today I call on Mayor Kenney to resign his seat as Philadelphia mayor. And if Congresswoman (Madeleine) Dean has a shred of integrity and even the smallest amount of concern and support for police and for the safety of district families, she will join me in calling for Kenney’s immediate resignation today.”

Attorney General  Josh Shapiro, the Democrat running for governor, said he would protect Second Amendment rights.

“I’ll be a strong defender of Second Amendment rights and a strong defender of making sure law-abiding citizens have the ability to bear arms. But we must make sure that those who are criminals — those who shouldn’t have access to guns — can’t get them,” Shapiro told 6 News.

By Tuesday afternoon, Kenney had apologized for his comments about no longer wanting to be mayor. “I apologize for being frustrated, but I do take my job personally and I take the problems we face personally,” he said. “And I apologize for wearing my emotions on my sleeve.”

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FLOWERS: Philly’s Mayor Looks Forward to Leaving Mess He Created

Everyone has those days when you wake up, look at the ceiling, and want to stay in bed until the moon rises in the evening sky. Most of us, however, are not the chief executives of major American cities, like the Hon. James Kenney, mayor of the city where America was born. Philadelphia’s leader has very publicly, albeit poignantly, made clear his desire to slump back into a private life he never actually had.

For most of his 60-plus years on this earth, Kenney has been in the public eye or on the public dole. He started his political life as an assistant to former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who essentially made his career possible. Patronage from the powerful Fumo helped Kenney snag a seat on Philadelphia City Council, where he remained for 23 years, from 1992 until 2015, when he resigned to run for mayor. He won that bid and is now well into his second term. He will wave a fond farewell (and being from Philly, likely a middle finger) in January 2024.

But over the weekend, he revealed to a reporter that he would prefer to be making his swan song much sooner. Commenting on the July 4th shooting of two police officers near the Art Museum during the holiday festivities, Kenney stated that “I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July, I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention, I didn’t enjoy the NFL Draft-I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here – when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”

I am quite sure he did not grasp the tone-deafness of the phrase “and I can enjoy some stuff” hours after two police officers had been shot and were recovering in the hospital. Jim Kenney is many things, but he is not a cruel man. It’s likely he is so frustrated with the fruits of his own incompetence (and the actual malfeasance of others, like his District Attorney Larry Krasner) that he doesn’t realize how bad he looks when he ventures, infrequently, before the glare of the cameras.

Lately, it seems he has simply chosen to hide behind the doors of his office or the layers of Gen X and Gen Z “assistants” who have taken over his social media to tweet inane, feel-good comments about everything from rainbows during Pride Month to how fabulously he tried to erase the legacy of his most illustrious predecessor, Frank Rizzo. (Note to Kenney: Removing a statue does not remove stature).

But to those who actually heard the mayor say he wanted out of this job, it was a slap in the face. We, who are forced to live with the consequences of his acts and omissions, do not have the luxury of retiring from this city. True, we can choose to move elsewhere and abandon the place that provided generations of our families with joy and warm memories. Still, not everyone can afford to switch ZIP codes as easily as Jim Kenney slips out of state to Maryland crab shacks.

Of course, Kenney doesn’t take any responsibility for the mess he has made of the city. His fingers are pointed elsewhere, at the Republicans who have absolutely no control in the city, and who are not currently in charge of either Congress or the White House. Right before mentioning that he wanted to retire, he made this observation about the weekend:

“The weather was beautiful, the concert was beautiful, but we live in America and we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want.”

So, it’s not the district attorney refusing to prosecute gun crimes in the city. It’s the Founders and the inconvenient Second Amendment. And it’s not the thugs shooting at police officers and terrorizing civilians. It’s that ‘Republican’ U.S. Supreme Court misinterpreting the aforesaid inconvenient Second Amendment.

Given the fact that Jim Kenney has such an inability to admit that so many of the problems in the city are directly attributable to his lack of leadership, it actually might be a good idea for him to get an AARP subscription and buy a timeshare in Florida (if he could stand living in a state with a competent chief executive)

Now let’s see if we can convince Krasner to do the same.

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MASTRIANO: We Can Secure Our Schools Without Trading Away Constitutional Rights

To no one’s surprise, the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is being exploited to pressure Americans into accepting a false choice: their rights or their safety. Don’t be fooled.

It’s much easier to confront inanimate objects than human flaws, which is why many lawmakers are quick to demonize guns. But that doesn’t solve the problem. The investigation into this crime is ongoing, but we already know that standard life-saving protocols were not followed.

As elected leaders, we can’t allow the focus to shift from the evil actions of individuals to inanimate objects. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers have worked together to provide schools with critical tools to identify potential threats and safeguard classrooms.

The General Assembly established the School Safety and Security Grant Program, which enabled schools to hire police officers, resource officers and counselors. It empowered schools to implement safety plans and violence prevention initiatives, and purchase equipment to boost student safety.

In 2019, the General Assembly created The Safe2Say Program, an anonymous school threat reporting system, to help prepare schools and law enforcement for potential violent incidents. This system has generated more than 86,700 tips since its inception, not only for school safety concerns, but also for student safety issues like bullying and self-harm.

Also in 2019, the General Assembly established Threat Assessment Teams to ensure students who could potentially pose a safety risk receive necessary evaluations and treatment, and it established training requirements for school security personnel.

The General Assembly established regional Risk & Vulnerability Teams to conduct school safety and security assessments at no cost to schools. They created Community Safety Grants for local municipalities, colleges and community groups to boost safety and reduce the risk of violence in their communities.

What can the General Assembly do now? I have called for a $20 million funding increase in this year’s budget that may be used for armed resource officers, metal detectors, door fortifications, emergency response training, security cameras, door-locking technology, and increasingly innovative solutions that will provide more security than taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.

We can also join 29 other states that have added an extra layer of security in the classrooms by allowing school staff to carry firearms. I’m introducing SB 1288, which will allow Pennsylvania school employees to be armed while on school property.

An employee carrying a firearm on school property will be required to possess a valid PA concealed carry permit, complete a rigorous firearms course, and be certified as proficient with the firearm the employee intends to carry on school grounds.

To be certified, training must include courses on protection of students, interactions with first responders, tactics for denying classroom entry to intruders, safe handling and storage of weapons, and proficiency with defensive weapons under duress.

Additionally, those certified to carry in school would provide their name and photograph to the local municipal Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police. This will allow law enforcement to know who is certified to carry should they need to enter the building in an active shooter situation.

SB 1288 would not be a mandate but would give school staff the ability to be a last line of defense if they choose. Sadly, there are some who think they shouldn’t have that choice. The president of the teachers union in Pennsylvania has gone on every network to call this proposal “dangerous and absurd.” He believes that, even if a school employee has been trained, permitted, and certified, they should not have the ability to defend students in a worse-case life and death scenario.

Mr. Askey is dead wrong. Mass murderers are often attracted to “soft targets” where they know victims are not armed. According to the Crime Prevention Resource Center, there has not been a single mass shooting in a school where staff were permitted to carry a firearm. According to the Crime Research Center, there has never been an incident of lost or stolen firearms where school employees are permitted to carry. Overwhelmingly, those with concealed carry permits have proven themselves trustworthy for decades.

All of these school safety best practices are tangible, rational steps we can take to protect our students and protect our constitutional rights at the same time.

It’s also important to note that criminality, violence, violence with guns, and antisocial behavior are pathologies commonly linked to young men from fatherless homes. Confiscating guns does not address this demonstrably significant factor. We need to start a difficult conversation about this cultural disaster.

Citizens across the nation and in Pennsylvania have long been pressured to trade their liberty for security. One cannot exist without the other. We can do better at protecting our kids in schools without infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Pennsylvanians.

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