Category Archives: Gun violence prevention

In the Kennett Spotlight: Mary Ellen Balchunis

from Kennett Area Democrats November 2016 newsletter

Candidate for PA’s 7th Congressional District

If Mary Ellen Balchunis is successful on Election Day, November 8th, she will leave the halls of academe in January for the halls of Congress. Running for U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania’s 7th District, Professor Balchunis teaches political science at LaSalle University, where she reminds her students that the government should always be, in the words of the Founding Fathers: “we the people, by the people.” Fearing that America is beginning to embrace “of the rich and for the rich,” instead, she decided she needed to run for Congress to advocate for restoring the nation’s original values.

One of the issues that is paramount in the Balchunis campaign is gun control. While she firmly supports the 2nd amendment, she believes in legislating the restrictions, which would curb gun violence. Further, she firmly supports background checks and a ban on assault weapons. An early proponent of gun control, she marched with her young daughter in the 2000 Million Mom March. Understandably, she seriously laments the fact that nothing has changed in the last sixteen years. It’s probably worse, because, as she says, “Congress is beholden to the National Rifle Association.”

When Mary Ellen Balchunis leaves the classroom to go to Congress, her constituents in 7th District can be assured that she will be guided by a singular tenet: Restore power to the people.

Submitted, Brenda Mercomes


Pa. Sen. Bob Casey, officials seek answers to gun violence

By Rick Kauffman, Times Herald, 8/10/16

CHESTER >> A visit from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey to Chester City Hall on Tuesday was focused on the trend of gun violence in urban areas.

Joined by Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Chester police Commissioner Darren Alston, Norristown police Chief Mark Talbot and members of local youth and study groups, the small summit discussed methods that politicians, police officers and residents must make to address public safety.

“Certainly part of the discussion is about the need for a comprehensive approach to this challenge of gun violence,” said Casey, D-Pa. “I think there are a series of common-sense measures that Congress should pass — background check legislation, limiting the clips of the magazines, banning the military-style weapons.”

On the state level, two measures on implementing stricter background checks — House Bill 1010 and Senate Bill 1049 — have failed to gain traction in Harrisburg this year after a push from supporters and a demonstration at the Capitol Building.

More recently, HB 1496, which increases the maximum available penalties for felons who illegally possess firearms, HB 1497, which bars a juvenile adjudicated for selling drugs from possessing a firearm until age 30, and HB 1498, which requires the state police to send all existing Pennsylvania mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within 90 days, all passed by large margins.

Casey, however, said more needs to be done on the federal level to keep guns out of the wrong hands. …

read more at Times Herald

Democrats Find Their Voice on Gun Control

editorial, New York Times, JULY 29, 2016

After two teenagers were shot dead and 17 people were wounded Monday in a Florida nightclub, the local police chief was quick to address a question that comes up these days whenever there’s a new gun rampage. “This was not a terrorist act,” he said. “You can put that out of your mind.”

The chief’s parsing of gun violence may have been intended to offer some small comfort to a nation that suffers 30,000 gun deaths every year. But it also seemed to respond to fears, stoked by the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, that foreign-bred terrorism is the singular threat — thereby deflecting public attention from the far larger problem of domestic gun violence made possible by easy access to lethal weapons.

Hillary Clinton, in contrast, has been surprising in using her nominating convention to feature gun safety — an issue many Democrats plainly rated as a political loser when they ducked it at the past three party conventions. Mrs. Clinton has forcefully pressed the issue before the voters from the beginning of her campaign last year. Her vice-presidential running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, has been an outspoken critic of the National Rifle Association ever since he served as governor at the time of the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech that took 32 lives and wounded 17 people.

The stark body count of Americans lays bare the truth of a fearsome gun problem that deserves a full-scale debate beyond Mr. Trump’s simplistic terrorism warnings….

read more at New York Times

“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

Happening today: A movement to end gun violence

email from Organizing for America, 6/2/16

In 2013, a small group of high school students decided to honor a friend’s life that had been taken by gun violence by wearing orange — the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves. Today, millions of people are coming together to fight for an end to gun violence in America. What those teens started in Chicago has turned into a national movement.

Through the Wear Orange campaign, more than 300 partners — including more than 100 organizations, 90 mayors, and 150 communities — will participate in National Gun Violence Awareness Day. People across the country are wearing orange to remember all those we’ve lost to acts of gun violence — and to call on Congress to do something about it.

Join the movement — add your name to those calling on Congress to do something about gun violence.

If there is even one thing that we can do to save another child, or another parent from the grief that so many others have had to endure, then we have an obligation to try.

We need common-sense gun violence prevention laws passed so that young people can grow up — but we have to stand together, organize and demand meaningful action from Congress.

Every voice matters in this push. Add your name right now to stand with the thousands of people wearing orange today, and demand action on gun violence.


Jack Shapiro
Director of Policy and Campaigns
Organizing for Action