In PA, it's time to move beyond fear, frustration & condolences

In the immediate aftermath of the tragic mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, public officials around the state reacted like everyone else: we mourned the victims, praised our brave police officers and other first responders, and talked about the need to respect and protect the life and dignity of every one of our state's residents.

But public officials have a duty to move beyond condolences and prayers -- we have the power and responsibility to take action to make our schools, places of worship and neighborhood streets safer.

That's why House Democratic members of the PA Safe Caucus are calling on those who control the agenda in the PA Legislature to commit to timely consideration of, and votes on, measures that already have been proposed to increase safety and reduce violence in our communities -- including legislation to pass universal background checks for the sale of all firearms in Pennsylvania.

Republican leaders have slow-walked or outright blocked consideration and votes on these proposals for years while they've held the majority. Our frustration and outrage over the continued cycle of violence that plagues our schools and communities and menaces our residents should outweigh any fretting we have over whether addressing this issue now "politicizes" these tragedies.

When foreign terrorists attacked our country in 2001, we didn't stop to worry about politicizing the issue, we immediately had the discussions we needed to have and took the steps we needed to take to identify the vulnerabilities in our defenses and address them with meaningful action. 

Why should Pennsylvania do any differently now in response to the home-grown terrorists who force domestic abuse victims, school students and their teachers and parents, worshipers in our churches and synagogues, and many other groups of Pennsylvania residents to live in constant worry and fear?

The Second Amendment enshrines an important right and safeguard of liberty in our constitution. We respect and defend it. But the unchecked flood of guns -- particularly assault-style weapons -- overtaking our society today leaves communities and innocent people vulnerable to spasms of mass violence and death like we saw this past weekend in Pittsburgh and we've seen repeatedly across the nation in recent years.

The public safety proposals languishing in the legislature -- many of them introduced by members of our PA Safe Caucus -- have the strong support of the public, including law-abiding gun owners.  

We have a problem, and we need to start working together to find a way to fix it, instead of enduring a stream of endless excuses as to why we should continue to ignore it.

-- House Democratic members of the PA Safe Caucus

Rep. Peter G. Schweyer

Rep. Mike Schlossberg

Rep. Robert L. Freeman

Rep. Maria P. Donatucci

Rep. Tim Briggs

Rep. Joanna E. McClinton

Rep. Carolyn Comitta

Rep. Helen Tai

Rep. Mary Jo Daley

Rep. Christopher M. Rabb

Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood

Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr.

Rep. Madeleine Dean

Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky

Rep. Austin Davis

Rep. Perry Warren

Rep. Carol Hill-Evans

Rep. Brian K. Sims

Rep. Jordan A. Harris

Rep. Steve McCarter

Rep. Stephen Kinsey

Rep. Matthew Bradford

Rep. Angel Cruz

Rep. Patty Kim

Rep. Maureen E. Madden

Rep. Jared G. Solomon

Rep. Tina Davis

Rep. Brian Joseph Kirkland

Rep. Jeanne McNeill

Rep. Margo Davidson

Rep. Jake Wheatley

Rep. Donna Bullock

Rep. Mike Sturla

Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio

The PA SAFE Caucus is a group of legislators dedicated to reducing all types of violence in society through adequate funding for mental health services; stronger tools for law enforcement; resources to curb the effects of addiction and illegal drugs; and solutions that reduce gun violence and promote public safety.