Pa. advocates disagree on whether Biden’s gun control actions will address violence

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — President Biden is tackling gun violence with a series of announcements meant to prevent crimes and save lives. While some Pennsylvania advocates are thrilled with his executive orders, others say it steps on their rights without preventing crime.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic. Enough prayers, time for some action,” Biden said.

He announced executive orders that direct the Department of Justice to limit access to stabilizing braces, which can turn a pistol into a short barreled rifle.

He also asked them to require background checks and serial numbers for ‘ghost guns’ which are homemade firearms assembled from kits that can be bought online or at gun shows.

Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA, says this is an important move to address gun violence.

“Every moment that we’re chipping away at people who want to harm others with firearms. And preventing them from getting access cause of their records as felons or others, will take a step forward in saving lives.”

But Kim Stolfer, President of Firearms Owners Against Crime, disagrees.

“I want to see things fixed and it’s not happening with this President, with these measures he’s recommending. It’s only going to be targeting law-abiding citizens,” Stolfer said.

The President also said the Justice Department would publish model ‘Red Flag’ laws to help states put measures in place to make it easier for family members or police officers to petition a court to take guns away from people who might use them to hurt themselves of others.

Stolfer says none of these measures will prevent deaths or crime.

“People are being misled into thinking these are solutions. They’re not and it’s not going to save lives,” Stolfer said. “It’s a great opportunity right now to put things into place that will.”

Instead, he suggests better mental health programs and stronger legal punishments for gun crimes.

“We can’t have my rights and your rights predicated on the misdeeds of criminals by a government that does not control the criminals they’re charged with controlling,” Stolfer said.

Garber argues mandatory minimum sentences don’t work.

“We should be looking at evidence-based solutions that reduce gun violence, not just charging people without that evidence behind it,” Garber said.

He believes this is a step in the right direction.

“Really a historic step forward to address gun violence,” Garber said. “Of course, there’s always more work to do and some of that is going to require Congress to get in and really focus on saving the lives of Pennsylvanians.”

The President is asking Congress to also work on gun control by banning assault weapons, closing background check loopholes, and taking away the protection gun makers have from lawsuits.

Both of Pennsylvania’s Senators are open to the idea of passing more gun control laws.

“My staff and I are reviewing the executive actions announced by President Biden today. Lasting progress though is made through the legislative process. I appreciate President Biden’s expressed willingness to work with both Republicans and Democrats to achieve this goal,” Republican Senator Pat Toomey said. “If done in a manner that respects the rights of law-abiding citizens, I believe there is an opportunity to strengthen our background check system so that we are better able to keep guns away from those who have no legal right to them.”

“President Biden is taking decisive action to confront the crisis of gun violence in our country. Congress needs to do its part now. The House of Representatives has passed comprehensive background check legislation. The Senate should pass these bills, in addition to banning military-style assault weapons, limiting the size of magazines and passing legislation to support survivors of gun violence. We can’t allow Republican Senators to prevent the passage of these lifesaving measures by using arcane Senate procedure. It’s time to act,” Democrat Senator Bob Casey said.

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