Author Archives: chescovsgv

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

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Bill Allowing PA Teachers To Carry Guns Advances

[The issue of how to best keep our schools safe is a very important one, but is having people who are not trained law enforcement officials the answer? PA lawmakers are actively considering allowing guns in schools.]

By Justin Heinze, West Chester Patch, April 21 2017

Legislation that would allow teachers to carry handguns in Pennsylvania schools has advanced in the state legislature, and the issue is predictably raising tempers on both sides.

Senate Bill 383, also known as the School Safety Bill, would give teachers the option of carrying concealed firearms on school property and in the classroom. Detractors of the bill don’t want firearms around children. Defenders, like bill sponsor Sen. Donald White, a Republican representing the 41st District, think that it could protect students from incidents of violence in schools, like mass shootings or stabbings.

“Since I first introduced this proposal, there has been much discussion about what the measure does and how it relates to current Pennsylvania law,” White, who represents Butler, Indiana, and Westmoreland counties, said in a statement. “To be clear, this bill is not about the Second Amendment. It’s about permitting the 500 school districts of this Commonwealth to have greater choices when it comes to protecting our most precious resource – our children.”

The bill would also allow school staff members, like maintenance workers or any administrative employees, to carry firearms.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s press secretary, J.J. Abbott, released a statement on behalf of the governor condemning the legislation. …

read more at West Chester Patch”></a. See Governor Wolf's "Wolf Administration Statement Opposing Senate Bill 383" here.

Republicans should take the lead to stop illegal gun sales

by The Inquirer Editorial Board, philly.com, April 21, 2017

It took the 2012 murder of a Plymouth Meeting police officer to break the chokehold the gun lobby has on Pennsylvania’s legislators. They passed the Brad Fox Law after its namesake was gunned down by a man who bought a gun from a straw buyer.

These are often profiteers who buy guns from legitimate sources and sell them to criminals who cannot legally purchase guns. No good comes from this arrangement, but the gun industry’s minions in the legislature constantly oppose efforts to stop the practice.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross has cited the flood of illegal guns as a major factor in the city’s outrageously high shooting rate. In 2016, police reported 2,257 aggravated assaults with guns, making shootings a major health crisis in the city.

But concerned leaders don’t even look to Harrisburg for help because Pennsylvania’s legislators seem more interested in enabling the bloodshed than stopping it.

Sometimes, though, there are small victories of common sense over the gun industry’s greed….

read more at philly.com

Staffer accidentally shoots himself at NRA headquarters

[We hope that this man is okay but we found it ironic that an NRA staff member participating in NRA-sponsored firearms training at the NRA headquarters accidentally shot himself. It just proves the point that guns have the potential to injure and kill people. Even people who have been trained to use them are still at risk.]

by Greg Hadley, McClatchy D.C. Bureau, philly.com, 4/8/17

Fairfax County, Virginia, police announced Friday that a 46-year-old man has suffered a minor injury and is undergoing medical treatment after he accidentally shot himself with a pistol at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association.

In its daily recap of incidents and crimes on Friday, the police department reported the accidental discharge took place at around 3:30 p.m. in the National Firearms Museum, which is based in the NRA’s Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters.

According to police, the man, an employee, was participating in firearms training at the shooting range located in the museum when he attempted to holster his pistol. As he did so, the weapon accidentally fired, injuring the man’s lower body.

read more at philly.com

Disgraceful gun bill endangers veterans: Army vet

by Lindsey Donovan, USA Today, March 29, 2017 [All 3 Chester County congressmen–Reps. Costello (R-6), Meehan (R-7) and Smucker (R-16)–voted for the bill, which passed the US House on March 16 and went to the Senate. See Tom Buglio’s comment on HR 1181 here.].

This isn’t about the Second Amendment. It’s about protecting those who served us so bravely.

I am a proud veteran of the Army. The seven Army Values are a part of my moral DNA. Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are at the heart of who I am today.

These values serve as the backbone to every servicemember who has served or is still serving in our armed forces, and they deserve better than what our federal lawmakers have given them. Instead of protecting our most vulnerable veterans — men and women with severe mental illness — the House recently passed a bill that made it easier for them to get guns.

Our veteran population is facing a devastating suicide crisis. Every day, 20 veterans take their lives — not surprisingly, two-thirds of them use a gun. And the veteran suicide rate is more than 20% higher than for civilian Americans. Yet in the midst of this crisis, our elected officials voted to remove from the background check system nearly 170,000 records of veterans with severe mental illnesses. These veterans will now be able to purchase and possess firearms, even if they have been determined to be incapable of managing their own affairs….

read more at USA Today

Costello & Meehan OK guns for Mentally Ill Vets

by Tom Buglio

The country is divided –on so many issues, guns being a perfect example. As someone who advocates for gun violence reduction, it has been a real struggle to find any common ground with gun rights advocates. I was hoping that keeping guns out of the hands of those with mental problems could be one of those areas; especially after the tragic and highly publicized shootings such as Aurora, Newtown and Tucson. All three are examples of someone with a mental illness using a firearm with tragic consequences. Surely, we can all agree that people who are mentally unstable, unbalanced, or with a full blown diagnosis of mental illness should not have access to a gun?

US Reps Costello and Meehan apparently do not think so.

President Bush signed a bill after the Virginia Tech tragedy where 32 people were gunned down by a mentally disturbed student in 2007, that required all federal agencies, including the VA, to submit names of people in their care to the National Instant Background Check (NICS) prohibited list when deemed too dangerous to own a gun.

This week’s successful vote on HR1181 – Vet’s 2nd Amendment Protection Act, will effectively cancel this law, and demonstrates once again that our Republican Congress does the bidding of the NRA, to the detriment of the safety of the Veterans and their families. This bill will restore gun rights to 170,000 Vets who may pose a serious danger to themselves and others. Let’s look at the facts:

*20 Vets commit suicide every day
*15,000 Vets who have severe PTSD will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*19,000 Vets who have schizophrenia will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*Vets have up to a 61% higher risk of suicide than the general public
*14 retired admirals and generals, including David Petraeus, sent a letter to Congress urging them against this bill

Supporters of the bill state that no ‘government bureaucrat’ should take a constitutional right away from vets, and have a provision for petitioning a judge to determine if a vet should loose their gun rights.

The ‘bureaucrats’ are actually medical professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists, who are in the best position to make the call on whether a Vet is a danger to himself.

I am disappointed in US Rep. Costello and Meehan, who talk a good game caring about vets and their well- being.

In a 2015 speech, Rep. Costello called for more awareness about suicide risk and PTSD among veterans. But a speech is just words, and as we can see in his vote, actions speak louder. It is really unfortunate that our Republican US Reps find it easier to support the gun rights agenda than the safety and care that our veterans so desperately need, and richly deserve.