Editorial: The real challenge of gun debate
In August, days after shootings in California and Texas and Ohio, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued a challenge to legislators in Washington and Harrisburg:
Do something about guns in 30 days. If nothing else, reconvene from recess and talk about what to do.
The 30 days have passed. Nothing has happened. Nothing except seven more dead in another mass shooting in Odessa, Texas.
“I intend to be there with other mayors whose cities have suffered through mass homicides conducted with assault-type rifles to welcome them back to Washington and to call on the immediate action now that they have returned,” he said.
There is no shortage of passion on the topic. There is no dearth of opinion on what to do.
What there has not been is real conversation between the people who can accomplish the task.
Those pursuing gun control and those defending the Second Amendment have plenty to say. They just don’t say it to each other. They lob volleys at each other by proxy, through Sunday morning talk shows and prime time television appearances.
The House of Representatives has passed bills that would strengthen background checks and waiting periods.
“I think the mayor’s challenge is really issued to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate, because those bills have sat on his desk with no action for months,” said U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon.
McConnell has said he will call for a vote only if he believes it can pass and if he has assurance President Trump will sign it.
That is not how government is supposed to work. The work needs to be done whether you know how things turn out or not. The Steelers don’t just play the games they know they can win. Football shouldn’t be a more genuine meeting of minds and effort than debate on the floor of the Senate.
Maybe the solutions Peduto and others seek won’t be accomplished, but they should be discussed. Just as important, McConnell and his Republicans should be putting forward a package of their own proposals.
The real challenge should not be to vote on gun laws but for government — regardless of branch or chamber or party — to do the job at hand and to play the ball from where the ref has placed it.