CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, April 9, 2007

Philly Calls for Gun Control

From Seven months after a special two-day legislative session on crime in which more than a dozen gun-control bills were defeated, anti-crime advocates are hoping a new climate in Harrisburg will mean movement on long-stalled gun-control measures.

The drumbeat for tougher firearms laws, they say, is swelling from people in many quarters, including the governor.

The effort comes at a time when the number of slayings in Philadelphia is edging painfully upward - 105 at last count, the majority of them at the point of a gun. At least 15 bills are back in the pipeline; Gov. Rendell has turned up the volume on his pleas for stronger gun-control measures, and Democrats now control the state House. All this comes at a time when a new poll suggests a majority of Pennsylvanians are willing to accept handgun-sale limits.

But despite the renewed hope - and calls by Rendell, Mayor Street, and mayors from mid-size cities across the state for legislation to help educe gun violence - the bills face an uphill battle in the General Assembly, which is dominated by lawmakers who support gun rights.

From House Speaker Dennis O'Brien (R., Phila.), who blocked gun-control bills as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to the current leaders of the committees in the House and Senate, there is reluctance to support gun bills for fear they will fail or bring lawmakers defeat in the next election.

Rep. Dan Surra (D., Elk) said that while he sympathized with residents living in high-crime areas, he could not support any gun-restriction bill because in certain quarters of his district, a hunting stronghold in the north-central part of the state, guns are a single-issue item at the polls.

"They will vote you out on this," Surra said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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