Congratulations Starr!

Gun Sense CC’s Legislative Lead, Starr Cummin Bright was honored with the Lighting the Way Forward Award at an all-star event on April 15.  Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the Civil Rights campaign and a supporter of the gun violence prevention movement spoke at the event. Congratulations Starr!

Gun Sense Goes to Harrisburg!

Several dozen intrepid members of Gun Sense Chester County rallied in Harrisburg on April 11. Here are some photos.

The “bus group” arrives and prepares to enter the Capitol. Photo by Wayne Hall. 

Photo by Randy Lyons

Next up, the “Rally in the Rotunda” with groups from across PA. Our own intrepid Starr Cummin Bright shared her powerful story. (Below)

Photo by Randy Lyons

Finally, signing letters to our legislators and dropping them off in the elected officials’ offices.

A productive day!

We have heard through the grapevine that House Judiciary Chairman Marsico, which is where most gun related bills are first considered, is inclined to release some bills from committee onto the House floor. We hope that is true!

 

Update from the 4/3 Member Meeting

Our April 3 member and guest meeting was well attended and featured a lively discussion period.  We divided into three groups, with each group having multiple people who are, and are not, gun owners.  This provided an opportunity for a deeper exchange of views beyond the typical “headline” messages.

Some of the discussion covered topics such as:

  • Why gun owners might want to have a weapon such as a semi-automatic rifle
  • If there is widespread agreement what the term “assault weapon” means
  • How young people are feeling about being in school when they hear about their peers being shot in school, and
  • Perceptions of the role the Second Amendment plays in today’s discussions about gun violence

While many opinions were firmly held, almost all who were in attendance remained for the “social time” to continue their dialogue.  We heard many comments that participants learned things they had not known.

Gun Sense Chester County is always happy to provide a platform for learning and thoughtful dialogue. It is always with the goal of finding a path forward, together. Toward that end, we are pleased to report that more of our gun owning participants are volunteering to help with education and advocacy in areas where there is agreement. We CAN come together to work for change.

Thanks to everyone who took time to attend the meeting.  We also provided an update on Gun Sense Chester County’s activities this year.  You can find a summary here:  GSCC_4_18_Updates

Have Three Minutes? Listen to a Discussion of  “Finding Common Ground”

We all have our own special ministry. Shannon Mannon of Three Minute Storyteller is a great listener and interviewer extraordinaire!

Shannon was kind enough to sit down with Peter Alois, a military veteran and gun sports enthusiast, and Ann Colby-Cummings of Gun Sense Chester County. Peter and Ann talked about how they developed relationship and found common ground.

Thanks Shannon Mannon (and her husband Mike who also assisted) and Peter Alois!  Check out the video! 3 Minute Storyteller on Common Ground

March For Our Lives, West Chester  3/24/18

Enough!  That was the overwhelming sentiment at the March for Our Lives – West Chester event, featuring student and elected official speakers, as well as poets and singers. The rally was so well attended that the Borough police shut off traffic on both High and Market streets. There were people of all ages, backgrounds and faith traditions in attendance. It was exciting to see so many lift their voices!

Thanks to all GSCC Volunteers who held signs and helped us pass out over 350 flyers and brochures!

The view from the northern boundary of the Old Courthouse property,looking across High Street toward Market Street. 

There were lots of youth of all ages in attendance.  That was very encouraging!

Daily Local News, March 5, 2018

Local ‘Gun Guy’ talks to Gun Sense Chester County

Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser talks to Gun Sense Chester County members, at West Minister Presbyterian Church.
Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser talks to Gun Sense Chester County members, at Westminster Presbyterian Church. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com

Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser, PhD, told the audience that residents of Parkland, Florida would never be the same, with everyone scared, after a Feb. 14 school shooting that took 17 lives.

Gun Sense regularly lobbies elected officials and runs educational programs.

“To advocate for anything you have to know what you’re talking about and what the other side is talking about,” Weisser said. “The real challenge to you is to learn just not what you think you should say, but to learn the real facts.

“Focus on the half-truths and know what is behind them.”

Gun Sense Chester County is a non-partisan, all-volunteer organization that welcomes both gun owners and non-gun owners who share a common ground and support an end to gun violence.

A member the audience asked what an “assault rifle” was used for and Weisser replied simply that it was designed to assault.

Weisser noted that “modern sporting rifles,” with Olympic-level accuracy, allowing a shooter to reload without losing sight of a target, contain large magazines and fire rapidly, should be banned.

In 1960, a Gallup poll asked Americans whether hand guns should be banned like they now are in “every other advanced country,” he said.

Sixty percent were then in favor of such a ban.

That time has passed. A recent poll showed that only 22 percent of Americans now support such a ban.

As part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, legislators decided to not regulate the lethality of guns but to regulate people.

Felons are not allowed to own guns.

“Nobody wants to be told how to behave,” Weisser said. “We don’t trust you, and whether the person you gave or sold the gun to is as responsible as you.

“An assault rifle creates an environment where the issue of gun lethality needs to be discussed.”

Weiser talked about his 30-year career selling firearms.

“Virtually every one of those sales was impulsive – on a moment,” he said. “It’s impulse.

“People buy guns because they like them.”

The average gun buyer spends as much time deciding what gun to buy as he does when buying a lottery ticket at a convenience store, according to Weisser.

The Gun Guy said he bought his first “real” gun at age 12 at a Florida flea market. He first owned a Red Rider BB gun.

“You know how many times I shot Geronimo in my backyard?” he said.

The Gun Guy suggested that everyone owning a gun, a product that does not wear out, should go through safety training.

Most gun dealers and a majority of the gun industry are opposed to training and universal background checks because gun sales would decrease, he said.

Weisser was asked why he stays a member, and continues to financially support, the NRA.

“If I need to have any influence at all, I need to be inside the tent,” he said.

Boyd Myers of West Chester attended the event and said that education for both sides is essential. He also said it was an honor to sit in a room with NRA members and non-gun owners who are in favor of stopping gun violence.

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Mike “The Gun Guy” Delivers Thought-Provoking Remarks at Two Area Events


Photo by Randy Lyons

Michael Weisser, PhD, also known as “Mike the Gun Guy” delivered two thought-provoking speeches on Saturday, March 3 in Devon and West Chester.  Mike covered a diverse array of topics including the concept of “virtuous violence,” the nature of guns as a regulated consumer product, the evolution of firearms marketing, and changes in public opinion regarding handgun ownership in the U.S.

One interesting concept Mike broached was the possibility of regulating firearms according to the degree of lethality… guns that are less likely to cause significant injury or death would be more lightly regulated, guns that are rapid fire capability and have high-capacity might be more heavily regulated.

Mike’s opinions were his own, but he left everyone in the audience with plenty to consider. We appreciate his time and thank everyone who joined the program!

Rep. Tim Hennessey Signs on to HB 1400

Gun Sense Chester County volunteers recently met with PA Rep. Tim Hennessey (PA District 26) to discuss HB 1400, which would close the existing gun purchase “background check loophole.” This loophole allows “long guns” (including AR-15s) to be sold without a pre-purchase background check through private sales. We appreciate Rep. Hennessey’s support on this bill. Thank you to (l to r)  Kristine Gordon-Watson, Martha Edwards, Lana Pellegrino, Rep. Tim Hennessey, and George Edwards for spending time on this important issue.

Members & Guests Meeting: 1/29/18

Gun Sense Chester County gets lowdown on state legislative process

Link to Daily Local News Article about 1/29 Meeting

Our Photos and Comments

                  

We had a nice turnout for a very informative presentation on how the Pennsylvania legislative process works.  The program was presented by Rep. Carolyn Comitta’s Chief of Staff, Christina Sappey (pictured middle, in black jacket, above) who gave an excellent presentation and answered many questions.

A general overview of the PA Legislative process is available here:  Making Law in PA

Coverage of Our 12/10/17 Sandy Hook Remembrance Event

Fox 29 GSCC Sandy Hook Coverage

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Daily Local News

West Chester Remembers Sandy Hook

Marchers hold T-shirts with the names of Sandy Hook Elementary School students and staff on Sunday at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester to mark the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the school in Connecticut.
Marchers hold T-shirts with the names of Sandy Hook Elementary School students and staff on Sunday at the Historic Chester County Courthouse in West Chester to mark the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting at the school in Connecticut. 
Those seeking common sense gun reform solutions marked the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s shooting’s five-year anniversary and carried T-shirts with the names and ages of victims along Market Street in West Chester on Sunday.T
Those seeking common sense gun reform solutions marked the Sandy Hook Elementary School’s shooting’s five-year anniversary and carried T-shirts with the names and ages of victims along Market Street in West Chester on Sunday.BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
 

WEST CHESTER >> Three dozen marchers don’t want to forget the collective pain and suffering experienced with the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six lives were snuffed out in seven minutes.

The march marked the five-year anniversary of the mass killing. Twenty of the victims were children.

“The 5th Anniversary Remembrance” started out at The Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center. Marchers held high T-Shirts with the names and ages of each shooting victim.

The procession of about three dozen members of the organizations Gun Sense Chester County, Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence and Delaware County United to Prevent Gun Violence, proceeded to march up Market Street and hold a second brief ceremony at the steps of the Historic Chester County Courthouse.

Each victim’s name and age was mouthed and a hand bell was rung to mark their passing.

Twenty-six years ago, Starr Cummin Bright was randomly shot in a church. She detailed her long and difficult recovery efforts.

“This can’t go on,” she said, “We can’t continue to lose children like this.

“This doesn’t make any sense. What happened to me can happen to anybody. I am a gunshot survivor.”

Coatesville’s Mike Young carried a shirt with the name, Josephine Gay, a 7-year-old Sandy Hook victim.

Young said the experience was emotional.

“Overall, it is sad that this young life was taken away,” Young said.

Ann Colby-Cummings, chair of the board of directors of the 400-member Gun Sense Chester County, said that people should remember.

Colby-Cummings supports universal background checks for all gun purchases.

“Is not every life lost unnecessarily to a gunshot a tragedy?” she asked, “One worthy of reflection and the question, ‘How might we have avoided this?’”

Colby-Cummings answered the question.

“We can set a sorely needed example in our divided nation by coming together to listen to diverse viewpoints and to identify common ground and work to implement change in areas there is already agreement.”

Gun Sense Chester County is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that welcomes both gun owners and non-gun owners to the group.

Members believe that establishing common ground is the solution. The group focuses on discussion of both gun and non-gun owners, educating residents, and working with elected officials to advocate change.

“In the five years since Sandy Hook Elementary, Congress has not passed any major legislation on gun regulation,” Colby-Cummins said. “As we sit here today, polls show that a majority of gun owners and those who don’t own guns want background checks before every purchase.

“Despite the fact that both groups want background checks for every gun purchase, we still don’t have that in Pennsylvania or the nation.”

Pew Research Center polls show that about 77 percent of voting gun owners and about 87 percent of those who don’t own guns believe that background checks should be in place.

A Quinnipiac University poll showed that about 91 percent of voters support a ban on sale of guns to people convicted of a major crime, about 62 percent favor stricter regulations on ammunition sales and about 74 percent support a ban on gun modifications that can make a gun work like a fully automatic weapon.

“This is why we are working hard to educate people about gun violence and gun regulations to engage in finding a common ground and to advocate with elected officials,” Colby-Cummings said.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed HR 38. The bill would mandate concealed carry reciprocity and could take away Pennsylvania’s right to control who can carry concealed guns.

If the bill gains final passage, it would make it easier for gun owners to carry hidden guns across state lines, with all states forced to recognize state laws enforcing few or no concealed carry restrictions.

Speaker Bryan Miller, of Heeding God’s Call, was pleased to report that congressional Republicans from the Philadelphia area, U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello, R-6, Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, and Pat Meehan, R-7, voted against the legislation. He said those votes occurred due to advocacy.

“That wouldn’t have happened two years ago or five years ago,” Miller said. “We were paying attention to it and let them know that there are consequences to their vote.”

The group Harmonium, featuring Judy Perri and Craig Talbot, lovingly sang several songs, including “Imagine,” by John Lennon, a gun violence victim.

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