HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Gov. Tom Wolf joined other lawmakers and activists Wednesday at the Capitol for a bipartisan call to address gun violence.
The event also served as a vigil for the 31 people killed and dozens injured in both shootings.
Wolf was joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who urged his fellow lawmakers to take action at the state and federal levels. Wolf shared three key things he believes lawmakers can do immediately to bring about change.
“I understand we must honor the Second Amendment but the Second Amendment is not a license to kill,” said Wolf, surrounded by a crowd of dozens of activists and legislators. “I’m calling for the swift passage of the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law.”
The red flag law authorizes courts to issue a special protection order, allowing police to temporarily confiscate firearms from those deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others.
More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia already have similar red flag laws in place, and advocates of gun violence reduction say those laws are working.
Wolf also asked the General Assembly to mandate universal background checks on all firearm purchases. He addressed federal lawmakers, urging the U.S. Senate to pass House Resolution 8, which would close background check loopholes at the federal level.
“[It’s] difficult to [pass] that when the one person who can convene the United States Senate has not yet agreed to call us back,” said Casey, sharing that he wants Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to set a concrete date for a vote on gun violence reduction measures. “The time for talk is over and the time for action is now, right now.”
“We need to know that every person in this country that owns a gun has gone through a background check,” said Deb Marteslo, of Moms Demand Action. “We’re here to say this has got to stop.”
Despite an overwhelming crowd of supporters for gun reform, not everyone at the rally felt passing new laws is the answer.
Robert Woodke, of Uniontown, said America has a people problem, not a gun problem.
“Gun laws don’t work because only law-abiding citizens follow the law. Criminals don’t follow the law. If they’re going to kill somebody, they’re probably gonna get a gun illegally. They’ll steal it, or whatever.”
Governor Wolf also addressed a request made earlier in the day by several state lawmakers for him to call a special session where lawmakers could vote on gun-related legislation.
Wolf said he is happy to call a special session but wants further reassurance from Democratic and Republican leaders that action will be taken and the session won’t be called in vain.