CeaseFirePA To Hold Day Of Action Against Gun Violence

— by Rabbi David Straus and Adam Kessler

The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a tragedy that has been a jarring reminder of the disturbing prevalence of gun violence in our country and culture. Our outrage has stirred us from our complacency and we will not wait for the next atrocity to finally act.

As the nation mourns, we must also look forward and dedicate ourselves to preventing a future massacre. Yet, despite the media attention given to such mass shootings, we must remember that nearly 1200 Pennsylvanians lose their lives, and thousands are injured due to gun violence every year. Nationally, over 31,000 people die from gun violence each year. If the civil rights movement was the moral issue of the ’60s for our community, eradication of gun violence in our society ought to be the moral issue of our time.

More details after the jump.
We ask that you join us and CeaseFirePA at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Wednesday, January 23, 12:00 PM for a Day of Action as we take a stand against gun violence. This is the first joint session in Harrisburg since the shooting in Connecticut.

There will be a noon rally and press conference in the East Wing of the Capitol. After the rally and press conference we will visit the offices of our State Representatives and Senators to make our presence felt and our opinions heard.

If you have special ties with either your State Senator or Representative, please contact Robin Schatz, our Director of Government Relations, so that we can let them know that you will be coming by their office on Wednesday afternoon.

CeaseFirePA advocates for sensible laws like more effective background checks for those legally purchasing guns, mandatory reports of lost or stolen legal firearms, national sharing of relevant data, closing loopholes that enable evasion of our laws, and working to remove assault weapons from being sold in Pennsylvania.

Please RSVP to Salena Camara by Wednesday, January 16 with your name, address and phone number, and please indicate if you would like to travel by bus or would prefer to go on your own. Based upon your response we would like to order a bus and travel together for a very minimal fee.  

Decision on who can carry a concealed firearm should be Pennsylvania’s

— by Pennsylvania State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia)

While we cannot tell other states how to issue firearm licenses or to whom, we must do so in Pennsylvania for our own residents. This would serve to protect Commonwealth residents from violent individuals who abuse the current loophole in state law to legally carry guns with an out-of-state permit after being denied one in Pennsylvania.

Case after case has been documented in which a violent person is denied a permit in Pennsylvania and then successfully applies for a permit in another state, such as Florida. Law-abiding citizens don’t seek to circumvent the law like that.

My proposal would not affect gun ownership rights, nor prevent residents of other states with permits from those states from legally carrying a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania. It simply would ensure that the Pennsylvania residents who are granted a license to carry have met the standards of our state and not the standards of another state that potentially could be less stringent.  

The bill (H.B. 1309) has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review.

Tucson Rampage’s Dangerous Combination: Extremism and Guns

— Bryan Miller

In the wake of the devastating shooting rampage of Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, Heeding God’s Call, the faith-based movement to prevent gun violence, expressed sadness at the predictable loss of life and damage to society, and called for citizens and the faith community to ‘step up’ and take the country from those who would use the deadly mix of guns and political extremism to endanger democracy and sell guns.

Rabbi Linda Holzman of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in Philadelphia said: “I call on all of my sisters and brothers of all faiths to take courage, get off your couches and out of your homes to bring this country to a place of safety and sanity where persons like the Tucson shooter cannot easily acquire guns and where there is no tolerance for those who would use the deadly mix of guns and extremism to seek power or disrupt our democracy.  It is high time the faithful in this country said no to extremists and the gun industry and lobby.  We can no longer allow their narrow single-mindedness and selfishness to dictate policies and laws.”

See statement by State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) after the jump.
State Representative Babette Josephs

State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., is expressing her horror, shock and outrage at Saturday’s attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which wounded her and 19 others at a community legislative event in Tucson, Ariz., leaving six dead and Giffords in critical condition.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families, including Representative Giffords,” Josephs said. “This is a terrible tragedy for them, for Arizona and for this country.

“But this incident reminds us that there can be consequences to speech that makes it seem OK to physically attack people for having a different viewpoint. I fear that many extremist talk radio and TV commentators do not make that distinction. People who are unstable are likely to take this rhetoric of violence as permission to act. And in states with weak gun control laws, that permission can be deadly. This is not a First Amendment issue, but one of self-censorship, self-restraint and the assumption of responsibility.

“A great friend of mine, the late Larry Frankel, championed the First Amendment, but even he said the First Amendment does not give us the right to act like idiots,” she said. Josephs pointed to the oft-noted map distributed by former Alaska governor Sara Palin with cross hair marks on certain legislative districts, including Giffords’.

“One cannot shout ‘fire’ in a crowded room without cause because of what it may incite. Responsible individuals self-edit their comments in the same way.”

Josephs also said she believes that Saturday’s shooting puts more light on the issue of responsible firearm laws.

“There are many instances in which women are the intended victims of troubled young men. Who will be next? Pennsylvania is similar to Arizona in having weak gun laws. Now is the time to reconsider enacting responsible gun-safety laws,” Josephs said. “It is up to the politicians to temper their extreme discourse and enact responsible gun-safety laws.”