By CAROLYN COMITTA guest columnist, Daily Local News, 12/14/13
One year ago, our nation was shocked by a tragedy that still affects us today. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting opened America’s eyes to the daily tragedy of gun violence, the lives lost and the weaknesses in our laws intended to prevent it.
One of the first actions I took as a mayor-elect four years ago, was to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I am very aware of gun violence across the country and in our community, and committed my efforts to raise awareness and take action to improve gun safety while protecting Second Amendment rights.
Today we observe a moment of “No More Silence” to honor the victims at Sandy Hook and the many victims who lose their lives to gun violence every day. The time for moments of silence has passed. We cannot sit silently as our leaders fail to act.
In the past year our movement has grown, and the cry for our children’s safety has grown louder. Millions of Americans have joined with us, and in Southeast Pennsylvania, grassroots groups dedicated to preventing gun violence have swelled in size. In Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties, a diverse coalition of mayors, moms, religious leaders, law enforcement, survivors and their families are more committed than ever to saving lives.
This year we called on our federal government to act, and most of our senators, including Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, voted for sensible expansion of background checks. Quinnipiac polls in April and June showed that most Pennsylvanians viewed Sen. Toomey more favorably because of his leadership on preventing gun violence. But 46 senators were able to block his common sense proposal.
Thanks to Pennsylvania’s state police and attorney general, we have made progress this year keeping guns out of the hands of people with severe mental illness problems and affirming Pennsylvania law enforcement’s right to decide who may carry loaded, concealed guns on our streets.
States all around Pennsylvania – New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Maryland – strengthened their own gun laws this year, and there is legislation proposed in Harrisburg that would save lives without curtailing gun rights.
But legislative leaders in Harrisburg won’t even allow a vote. …
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