Monthly Archives: June 2016

“Rep. Costello, do your job!”

By Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 6/29/16

“Rep. Costello, do your job!” was the first of several chants by the 25 people assembled under his office window on West Market St. on June 27.

Then, it was on to “Background checks now!” and “No guns for terrorists!”

And “What did Congress do after Sandy Hook?” Reply: “Nothing!” And the chants went on to a list of other mass shootings after which Congress likewise did nothing.

Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence leader Tom Buglio pointed out that 80-90% of Americans poll as wanting background checks and gun denials for individuals on the terrorist watch list—issues about which Rep. Ryan Costello (R PA-06) won’t meet with CCCPGV personally, though his office staff has.

According to Buglio, Costello is typical of today’s US House: he took $10,000 in NRA funding 2 years ago and avoids every chance to engage with gun violence prevention advocates. Buglio read from Costello’s statement after the Orlando shootings; Costello speaks repeatedly of “terrorism” and “hate” but does not stress that terrorists and haters should not have easy access to assault-style guns.

Activists have repeatedly asked Costello to cosponsor HR 1217, introduced by Peter King [R-NY-2] and cosponsored by almost 200, including 5 R’s and 2 D’s from PA, but Costello will not answer. (See HR 1217 info here.) Buglio challenged Costello: “Stop protecting the NRA and start protecting your constituents.”

The next speaker, John Gribbin, saw Orlando as an attack directed against the LGBT population, not as terrorism in general….

read more at Politics: A View from West Chester

Congress vs. the States on Guns

editorial, New York Times, 6/21/16

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to not take up Second Amendment challenges to laws in Connecticut and New York that ban the sale or possession of many semiautomatic assault rifles and large-capacity magazines in those states.

With those denials, the latest of more than 70 rejections of challenges to gun regulations, the justices have made it clear that reasonable gun-control laws are fully consistent with Second Amendment rights.

Yet Congress has refused time and again to help protect Americans from rampant gun violence, and so it has fallen on state lawmakers to address this national crisis. Some state and local governments have banned or restricted certain types of ammunition, or prohibited classes of people, like those convicted of multiple instances of drunken driving, from possessing guns. Others have imposed universal background checks and safe-storage requirements on gun owners.

read more at New York Times

Dozens gather to remember Orlando victims in West Chester

By Candice Monhollan, Daily Local News, 6/22/16,

WEST CHESTER >> The tragedy in Orlando on June 12 sent shockwaves across the nation. Those ripples of sorrow, anger and cries for change have even reached West Chester.

On Wednesday night, people of all religious faiths gathered on the steps of the Chester County Historic Courthouse to remember the 49 lives lost in that unfathomable act of terror and violence.

“As a society, we need to come together to end the continuous cycle of violence based on bias and hate,” said state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, of West Whiteland, in a statement for the memorial. “Members of all faith traditions must play a leading role in promoting the understanding, service and responsibility necessary to build strong and safe communities.”

Though it was organized by the Chester County rabbis, the memorial was made to be multi-faith, with several clergy coming from other places of worship from around the county, including the Rev. Joseph Heim, a retired Catholic priest, Abdul Mughes, of the Islamic Society of Chester County, and Alyce Denver, of the West Grove Friends Meeting, among many others.

Also in attendance was Mayor Carolyn Comitta.

“West Chester stands in solidarity with the victims, the families and the friends and all people of Orlando and, indeed, across our country,” she said to the crowd. “We are heartbroken (and) shocked…as we suffer the consequences of yet another mass shooting in America. This should not be a part of our American vocabulary.”…

read more at Daily Local News

Ban Assault Weapons Now

petition from MoveOn, 6/15/16

BanAssaultWeapons

Orlando. Sandy Hook. Aurora. San Bernardino.

What do these horrific shootings have in common? Assault weapons.

Assault weapons were used to murder at least 49 people in Orlando, 26 people in Sandy Hook, 12 people in Aurora, and 14 people in San Bernardino.

Right now, these mass-killing weapons are available for purchase on-line, at trade shows, and at gun brokers across our nation. They have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters.

Assault weapons have no place in our cities and towns. No place on our streets.

We need to ban all assault weapons now, while moving quickly to enact common sense gun reform.

Senate filibuster ends as Democrat claims gun control victory

The Guardian, 6/16/16

Chris Murphy, who led Democrats in holding floor for more than 14 hours, says deal was struck with Republicans for vote on background checks and terror watchlist

A marathon Democratic filibuster in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre came to an end in the US Senate on Thursday morning after Republicans apparently agreed to hold votes on tighter gun control measures.

Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, led the filibuster which lasted for more than 14 hours along with several colleagues. In the early hours of Thursday morning in Washington, Murphy said a deal had been struck with Republican leaders to hold votes on key measures.

Murphy yielded the floor at 2.11am, saying he had won commitments from Republican leaders that they would hold votes on amendments to expand background checks and ban gun sales to suspected terrorists….

read more and see links at The Guardian

Don’t offer your ‘thoughts and prayers’

By Mike McGann, The Times of Chester County, 6/13/16

Accept the reality of mass shootings: this is what you wanted

Don’t bother sharing your “thoughts and prayers.”

The truth is, the slaughter of 49 innocent people in Orlando Sunday is exactly what you chose.

Just as you chose the slaughter in Charleston, Sandy Hook, Aurora and dozens more. You also choose the shootings in Coatesville which of late seem to be a monthly event.

Before you sputter in protest that you didn’t want anyone to get shot, you, a Republican majority in Chester County, have repeatedly voted for elected officials backed, cowed and funded by the National Rifle Association. They, in turn, have fought any limits on guns — Assault Weapons (oh, oops, in politically correct language, we must call them “long guns” rather than the more accurate “slaughter machines”), universal background checks and the like.

So, say what you want — but it’s just words. Your actions reveal your real opinion.

Don’t you dare mourn, offer prayers or condolences. You enabled this and need to own it. The blood is on your hands because this is the outcome you wanted.

And your sophisticated arguments such as “But, terrorism” are equally full of crap. The killer in Orlando was mentally disturbed, under FBI surveillance and expressed radical positions and had deep issues with gay people — but there was no way to stop him from stopping by his local shop and buying an AR-15 with an extended mag.

Before you spout off some laughable nonsense about Second Amendment Rights — just stop. It’s bad enough you’re lying to us, but, for God’s sake, stop lying to yourself.

The entire rights argument has been nothing but a big lie. Rights have never been threatened — never. …

read more at The Times of Chester County

Latest in long line of massacres

Letter to the Editor, Daily Local News, 6/13/16

In the terrible aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history, we are struggling to make sense of how something so horrific like this can happen.

Details are emerging about the shooter: his estranged wife stated he was abusive, and was mentally unstable, he was interviewed by the FBI twice after co workers shared sympathy for extremist Islamic views.

Yet this man was able to buy high powered weapons, like the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with large capacity magazines legally. His father related that he had reacted with disgust when observing a gay couple kiss in public.

Were there enough red flags to have prevented this tragedy? Maybe, maybe not, but certainly there are things that a smart society can do to make it more difficult for dangerous people, like Omar Mateen, to use a firearm to explode in an orgy of hate a violence.

* Provide a way for friends and family to petition the courts about someone who is a danger to themselves or others to prevent them from buying a firearm legally. Bill HB 1030 in PA -firearms restraining order, would do just that.

* Outlaw dangerous weapons like the AR-15 and large capacity bullet magazines that make it easy to kill so many in such a short amount of time.

There is no real control over someone who is self radicalized, who harbors hatred and prejudice.

But as a responsible society, we have a duty to do what we can to protect citizens from the easy access to high powered weapons that make the Orlando shooting the latest in a long line of mass shootings in our country: from San Bernardino, to Aurora to Fort Hood to Sandy Hook, to Virginia Tech etc. etc. Australia had a mass shooting in Port Arthur where 32 people died in 1997. Within 3 months, Australia passed universal background checks and outlawed assault weapons. They have not had a mass shooting since. Until America gets serious about the continuing carnage, the next mass shooting is right around the corner.

Tom Buglio, West Chester
Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence