Monthly Archives: June 2017

A Sad Day for Chester County

Dear Friends,

We are heartbroken by the tragedy of a gun homicide involving Bianca Nikol Roberson, a beautiful 18-year old girl who recently graduated from West Chester’s Rustin HIgh School.

Daily Local News: Road Rage Shooting

While driving in West Goshen Township,  Bianca was shot and killed by another motorist, apparently as part of a road rage incident.

It is human nature to try to rationalize why this would never happen to us or one of our loved ones.

In our own effort to make meaning of this, our initial thought was to urge people to choose behaviors that would de-escalate potential conflict; to remain calm and back away when anger or aggression is directed at you. We must remember there is always a reasonable possibility others are carrying a loaded gun.

However, sending this message might imply that Bianca did something wrong or for some reason “deserved it”, which is a deplorable thought.

Our prayers are with Bianca’s family.

Perhaps we also need to be praying for our society — a culture that is undergoing significant changes. One in which we need to evaluate every situation as a potential source of gun violence. A tragic day for many reasons.


We Did Not Sign Up for This…

Thank you to Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFire Pa for this thoughtful Op Ed piece, which was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In the wake of last week’s shooting in Alexandria, Va., targeting Republican congressmen and their staff on a baseball field, Rep. Mo Brooks (R., Ala.) said: “As with any constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights, there are adverse aspects to each of those rights that we enjoy as people. … And what we just saw here is one of the bad side effects of someone not exercising those rights properly.”

This is a completely wrong-headed and offensive analysis.

When did 92 American lives a day, 33,000 lives a year, become merely a “bad side effect”? When did being gunned down in a church, a movie theater, a first-grade classroom, a baseball field become simply a “bad side effect”?

To my mind, never. We did not sign up for this.

A small but powerful and well-moneyed gun lobby has tried to pull the wool over our eyes — the equivalent of the fast-talking, small-print recitation of side effects like dizziness, nausea, and hair loss on all those pharmaceutical commercials. But there’s a big difference: When I take a drug prescribed by my doctor, I do so aware and willing (if worried) to risk the side effects because of the promised benefit. To call the deaths of innocent people out living their lives a side effect of someone abusing a right is to declare their lives worth less than another person’s exercise of that right. That is unacceptable.

Somehow, we’ve become numb to the toll of gun violence and chalk it up as the cost of living in America. We’ve let the gun lobby elevate its talk of rights above what we know is right. Five people shot is not “a bad side effect of someone not exercising [their] rights properly.” It is a direct effect of lax laws that provide easy access to guns to people who should not have them.

Forty-nine people dead and 53 injured in a nightclub. Nine killed in a church. Twenty children and six teachers killed in a school. In Philadelphia, more than 140 homicides so far this year. These are not side effects. They are lives lost, dreams destroyed, families with holes in them, missed opportunities. And they are the direct result of allowing easy access to firearms.

What keeps me up at night is trying to figure out how to do more, how to bring about the seeming revolution we need so that what is known to all — that we have the right to be safe and to feel save where and when we work, learn, pray, and play — will actually become reality.

We’re not fighting a bad side effect. We are fighting a full-on public health crisis. And we know the path to a cure. What keeps me up at night is the worry that, as a nation, we’re looking at this all wrong. We need the will to act, and we need leaders with the courage to take action.

We must become single-issue voters. The other side is expert at it — they give no quarter. When an elected official dares to vote in a way unacceptable to the gun lobby, he or she is not given a pass. Every time an issue arises, the supporters of the gun lobby make their voices heard — they call, write, email, and visit constantly.

We must do the same. And here’s the truth — there are more of us. But we can’t cling to the idea of being a silent majority. Silence is unacceptable. Inaction is unacceptable.

We each have a voice and a vote, and we need to use them. And this is the message we need to send: If you are not part of the solution to the problem of gun violence, you are part of the problem.

Gun violence is the disease, not the side effect. We need to dedicate America’s talent, resources, genius, and sheer people power to curing this problem.

Interested in Finding Common Ground?

Gun Sense Chester County is dismayed and appalled by the tragic shooting of Congressmen and Capitol Hill Security officers in Alexandria Virginia earlier this week. Gun Sense fervently hopes for a speedy recovery for all.  This is an unfortunate example of the gun violence that occurs across our nation on a daily basis.

It is not news that we are in a very polarized political environment. Gun Sense believes our leaders can rise above the recurring pattern of rhetorical dart throwing to thoughtfully consider what might constitute a better path forward. Perhaps this event can lead to a calmer, more productive discussion about vital issues such as gun violence prevention.

Gun Sense Chester County believes substantial common ground already exists on key aspects of gun regulation and gun violence prevention. This common ground includes a significant majority of gun owners and non gun owners alike. It covers items such as:

  • Pre-purchase background check for all types of guns
  • Requiring licensing for concealed carry of guns, and
  • Continuing to have gun free school zones.

In the aftermath of the Alexandria shooting, some political figures have commented about reaching for “Common Ground” with statements like, “We must find a Common Ground way to discuss these key issues as a responsibility to our citizens”. We agree.

Finding “Common Ground” is a focal point and mission for Gun Sense Chester County. Identified areas of likely agreement will be developed, researched, presented to legislators and be communicated to the public for educational purposes.

Gun Sense Chester County welcomes all citizens, gun owners and non gun owners alike, to join in a respectful dialogue about the presence of guns in our society and ways to reduce the level of gun violence. Gun Sense operates in a nonpartisan manner and incorporates diverse viewpoints. Please consider joining. To do so, contact:

Looking for a Way to Make a Change?

We are very glad that the Congressmen and their security detail will be okay, following the shooting in Alexandria, VA by a man using an assault rifle and handgun. However, statistics show that it’s likely 93 other Americans will be killed by a gun today.  Almost twice that will be injured.

Even though the Congressmen will recover physically, some may suffer symptoms of post traumatic stress, which happens for many people who have been exposed to gun violence.

Tired of seeing these stories? Wondering how to make a change?

Gun violence prevention is a large and complex challenge. However, surveys consistently show there is significant existing common ground across gun owners and non gun owners alike.

This includes straight forward  items such as have a background check completed before every gun purchase.

Gun Sense Chester County is working to:

  • Educate our fellow citizens about current gun regulation and gun violence prevention;
  • Promote thoughtful dialogue to help our communities decide the appropriate path forward; and,
  • Encourage our elected officials to put in place regulations that already enjoy widespread support.

We were pleased to be with members of the Kennett Square community on Wednesday night and have an additional event in West Chester on Thursday, June 15.

  • Thursday, June 15 at 7:15 p.m. in West Chester, at Grove United Methodist Church, 490 W. Boot Road.  This workshop will help participants learn “Tips & Tactics for Engaging Elected Officials.”

Can’t make a meeting? Get on our mailing list by contacting us by email:

We CAN get to a better place around gun violence in the U.S.

YOU can help.  Please get in touch today.

Engaging Our Elected Officials

Daily Local News, 6/07/17

WEST CHESTER >> Gun Sense Chester County (formerly The Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence) is offering a “public invited open workshop” for anyone interested in learning more about how to most effectively engage and interact with elected officials and their offices and staff.

The event is called “Tips and Tactics for Engaging Elected Officials”. It’s designed to enhance community awareness on critical gun topics in an open discussion format. There is no admission charge and all are invited, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Reservations are not required.

The event will be held at Grove United Methodist Church 490 Boot Road, West Chester PA 19380 at 7:15 p.m. Thursday June 15. Information will be available for interested volunteers.

“We are not all going to agree on every issue surrounding gun violence and effective prevention methods,” said Ann Cummings, Chairperson of Gun Sense Chester County. “If our communities are to find a productive way forward, we have to be able to listen to each other and find common ground.”…

read more at Daily Local News

Wearing Orange, 400 Delco residents unite & march Media for sensible gun policy

by Anne Neborak, DelCo Times, 6/3/17

Hundreds attend the rally at the Second Baptist Church of Media Friday night. They later walked along State Street for the National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

MEDIA >> More than 400 people wearing orange filled the Second Baptist Church of Media Friday night in a show of unity to shoot down gun violence.

It was standing room only at the Wear Orange Rally and Walk for National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

The rally and walk sponsored by Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy is Cochaired by Terry Rumsey and Robin Lasersohn. The group is lobbying to pass legislation to establish universal background checks on guns sales in Pennsylvania with House Bill 1400, which is sponsored by state Rep. James Santora, R-163, of Upper Darby.

Rumsey and Lasersohn spoke about the importance of contacting legislators to work toward sensible gun policies. Lasersohn wants to rename Friday’s National Gun Violence Awareness Day to National Gun Violence Awareness and Action Day.

Legislators state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9, Rep. Santora and state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, attended the march and rally to advocate and support an end gun to violence through legislation.

It came on a day – National Gun Violence Awareness Day – when four different shooting incidents took place in the city of Chester, including one that took the life of a 16-year-old walking to school at Chester High.

Killion has authored Senate Bill 501, which would work to get the guns out of persons facing a protection from abuse order in domestic violence situations. Currently in a domestic abuse situation the person subject of the order has 60 days to give up their firearms, and they can give them to a friend or relative. Under Killion’s measure a person suspected of domestic abuse would have to surrender their firearms to a law enforcement officer within 24 hours….

read more at DelCo Times

In Case You Wonder Why…

Having conversations to share differing viewpoints on guns in our society is not easy.

If you need any reminder why it’s important for us to continue the work to reduce gun violence, please read the impactful story in the June 9 Washington Post: 12 Seconds of Gunfire

One startling statistic… “Beginning with Columbine 18 years ago, more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, (Based on Washington Post analysis of online archives, state enrollment figures and news stories.)

One photo contained in the story powerfully conveys the tragedy… it’s of a young girl clinging to the inside of a window on the school bus that is taking her away from the scene of a fatal shooting. She is obviously in great distress.

The point of the story is that for these children there is no “taking them away…” the horror of the event lives with them forever.

Most of us feel distress when we hear of gun violence tragedies, particularly those at schools. As the adults… it’s up to us to translate those feelings into action.  THIS is why we keep talking, researching, and seeking to move forward on a path to reduce gun violence.