ShareThis Page
Bill Peduto, Philly mayor: Why we oppose Pa. Senate gun bill | TribLIVE.com
Featured Commentary

Bill Peduto, Philly mayor: Why we oppose Pa. Senate gun bill

1136981_web1_PedutoKenney
Peduto photo by Tribune-Review; Kenney photo courtesy Philadelphia Mayor’s Office
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, left, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney penned an op-ed Thursday, May 9, 2019, explaining why they oppose Sen. Bill 531.

As mayors of the Commonwealth’s two largest cities, representing more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, we unequivocally oppose Senate Bill 531 which is being considered in the Pennsylvania Senate.

This bill would pre-empt local jurisdictions from enacting sensible laws to protect their residents from deadly firearms. It gives the gun lobby the ability to sue local governments for their own financial benefit whenever they do not like a local gun law. Further, it would allow the gun lobby to force taxpayers to cover their legal fees, even if cities won in court.

Now more than ever we need uniform laws at the state and federal levels to protect Pennsylvanians — and all Americans. In absence of this, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other localities have no choice but to pass and enforce laws that protect our residents.

We refuse to stand by as our children are put through active shooter trainings, our parents and grandparents cannot safely enter houses of worship, and people of all ages are taken from us too soon because some legislators refuse to stand up to the gun lobby. Laws should not be written by and on behalf of the gun manufacturing industry, and strictly for their profit. This is not normal, and we cannot accept it.

In Philadelphia, while overall violent crime is down, the 351 homicides and 1,403 shootings in 2018 — the most in the last decade — represent a distressing increase in gun violence. The challenges in Philadelphia are very different than gun violence in many other parts of Pennsylvania, which is why Philadelphia requires different solutions.

The City of Philadelphia and its partners are implementing a new comprehensive violence prevention strategy to the tune of $31 million in local funding. These efforts will not be successful, however, if we also do not address the far too easy access actors have to firearms. Our solutions must include the ability to draft and enforce certain gun laws that specifically address the unique challenges that Philadelphia faces.

While homicides have been trending downward in Pittsburgh the past five years, the impact of weekly killings on our streets and weight of innocent lives stolen cannot be forgotten. The murders of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in October — the largest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history — again show that efforts to stop ongoing gun massacres are not working.

There is no reason assault rifles, armor-piercing bullets and other materials designed only to kill should be used in urban environments, whether on city street corners, places of worship or anywhere our residents rightly deserve to feel safe. That is why Pittsburgh approved common-sense bills to disallow the use of such materials and adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders, in which families and law enforcement can seek court approval to take firearms from those who may hurt themselves or others.

At the federal, state and local levels, the drafters of the U.S. Constitution, Pennsylvania Constitution and the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Home Rule Charters understood that certain issues could not be addressed by a one-size-fits-all solution. This is why each of these documents bestow certain powers upon the government that is closest to the issue and more adequately equipped to solve it.

Instead of saving lives and preventing future tragedies, this bill would make it more difficult to address guns and ammunition. Therefore, we urge members of the General Assembly to oppose SB 531 and address the proliferation of both legal and illegal guns in Pennsylvania. In absence of any such action, at least provide local leaders with the ability to solve their challenges with local action. If federal and state lawmakers won’t take a stand to stop gun massacres, don’t tie the hands of those who will.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.