Eliminating Background Checks Puts Guns in Wrong Hands

handgun_sales[1](CeasefirePA) Last April, State Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) introduced legislation that would eliminate the state background check system.

Do you know what happened with the Charleston shooter’s background check? Did he pass it? Did he fail?

This is what happened: The background check was never completed. Most background checks take just minutes for an approval or denial to register. But some take a bit longer, and under federal law, if a clear answer does not come back in three days, the seller can sell the gun.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) allows extra time for a background check to be completed. The default is to protect safety, not to let a sale go through in the absence of a completed check.

PICS and the federal system work in tandem to keep Pennsylvania safe. We are fortunate to have this system in Pennsylvania. But the gun lobby does not like it, and is pushing a bill that would eliminate it.

Moving forward with this means putting guns in the hands of people who are dangerous. As we saw with the tragedy in Charleston, allowing sales to go forward without a completed check can be a death sentence for mothers, fathers and children.

Jewish Democratic Women Urge Grassroots Action On Gun Control

— by David Streeter

The Women’s Leadership Network of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) urged NJDC’s members to call their members of Congress and urge “bold” and “courageous” actions to pass gun control legislation and end the epidemic of gun violence. The Network’s co-founder Barbara Goldberg Goldman said:

Last week, NJDC’s good friend former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to be ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ to stop the epidemic of gun violence in America. Today, we urge American Jews to echo Gabby’s powerful call to action and urge their Senators and Representatives to support efforts to reduce gun violence. Jewish tradition teaches that we must pass along a better world to our children and grandchildren, and one way to do that is by taking steps to prevent the next Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, or Columbine tragedy.

NJDC action alert and a video from the Daily Show follow the jump.

Co-founder Ann F. Lewis added:

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) need our voices on this critical issue in order to rally Congress behind their policies. We must add our voices to the growing chorus calling for action. Now is the time to act, before more innocent children are slain.

Below is the text of the action alert that NJDC sent to its membership:

Subject: Join with Gabby
From: Ann F. Lewis and Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Dear NJDC Supporter,

In January, President Barack Obama took a number of actions to combat “the epidemic of gun violence in this country” that has claimed far too many innocent and precious lives. When the President addressed the nation, he made clear that “if there is even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.” The Senate Judiciary Committee picked up on his call and convened its own hearing to address gun violence, and our dear friend former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) — who was tragically wounded in a mass shooting — delivered this powerful message to the committee:

This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats, and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important.

Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.

It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

As the co-founders of NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network, we urge you to echo Gabby’s words by telling your Senators to be courageous by supporting measures to reduce gun violence and protect our children. Call you Senators and Representative today and urge them to:

  • Support universal background checks for gun purchases;
  • Improve access to mental health services for all Americans;*
  • Support the assault weapons ban introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA); and
  • Use their voice and their vote to protect America’s children.

Jewish tradition teaches that we must pass along a better world to our children and grandchildren, and one way to do that is by taking steps to prevent the next Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, or Columbine tragedy. With your help, our Senators will know that American Jews are firmly supportive of efforts to end the epidemic of gun violence and make America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods safer for everyone.


Ann F. Lewis and Barbara Goldberg Goldman

Hadiya Pendleton’s Tragedy: The NRA Used To Be Different

The National Rifle Association’s current President Wayne LaPierre once supported universal background checks. This stands to reason: Stopping criminals from buying guns in stores but allowing them to do so at shows is like locking your front door but leaving your sidedoor wide open. Wayne LaPierre no longer reflects the will of the majority of the NRA’s membership — law-abiding gun-owners interested in self-protection of hunting. He now represents the interests of Gun manufacturers who would suffer if they were not able to sell this guns to criminals.

If the killing of 20 innocent children were not enough, today the gun lobby has another victim on their hands Hadiya Pendleton. Hadiya was a talented teen who performed days ago as a majorette at the events around the Presidential inauguration has been shot dead less than a mile from Obama’s home in Chicago. She had just taken a final exam at her high school and was taking shelter from the rain in a playground when a gunman starting shooting. See coverage by CNN on the right.

If Only Anne Frank Had Been Packing A Luger

Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher (R-OH) campaign video offensively blames Holocaust on gun control.

— by David A. Harris

Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances. For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain-must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately.”

With this video, Wurzelbacher joins the ranks of other Republicans such as presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Representatives Allen West (R-FL), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and Trent Franks (R-AZ), WV Senate candidate John Raese and FL House candidate Adam Hasner who have shamefully abused the Holocaust to make political points.

Hunter Walker of the New York Observer reported today:

Samuel ‘Joe The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign microcelebrity and Ohio congressional candidate, has an interesting theory about the Holocaust. Yesterday, Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.

‘In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,’ Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. ‘In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.’

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, ‘I love America.’

The description of the video describes gun ownership as ‘our last line of defense’ from tyranny and poses a rather existential question about Mr. Wurzelbacher’s produce shooting hobby.

‘If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the 2nd Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it’s our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government,’ the description says. ‘And killing fruits and vegetables is… what?’

Tougher Illegal Gun Law Introduced

from the inbox:

   On Wednesday afternoon the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 2331, with an overwhelming majority in support of the bill: 190 votes in favor to only 7 opposed. The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.

  CeaseFirePA, the Pennsylvania Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, and statewide law enforcement associations including the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, weighed in heavily in support of the proposed legislation, while the National Rifle Association has remained silent.
   “The passage of this bill in the House is a step in the right direction toward a Pennsylvania safer from gun violence,” said CeaseFirePA Executive Director Max Nacheman. “Legislators from both sides of this often polarized issue can all agree that criminals who use guns illegally are a major part of the problem, and deserve punishment for endangering Pennsylvania communities. From this common ground, it seems possible to tackle the greater challenge of gun violence prevention.”
   Pennsylvania law currently establishes that an individual prohibited from firearm activity by Pennsylvania law, who commits a crime using a firearm, must serve a sentence of at least five years in jail. However, there is no similar requirement for an individual convicted of illegal firearm possession if no other crime was committed at the time, besides illegal possession of a firearm.
   “When a felon or other prohibited person is caught with an illegal gun, it is only thanks to good police work and luck that he or she was apprehended before there was an opportunity to pull the trigger,” said Nacheman. “When law enforcement officers are able to apprehend a criminal carrying an illegal gun before they use it to maim or murder an innocent person, prosecutors should have the tools to pursue penalties that fit the severity of the threat to which the community was exposed.”
   HB 2331 would establish a minimum penalty of five years in jail for any previously convicted felon found illegally in possession of a firearm or engaged in other prohibited firearm activity, whether or not the felon was committing another crime in addition illegal firearm possession or activity.

   Further, HB 2331 would classify a second offense of unlawful firearm activity, by any person prohibited from firearm activity under Pennsylvania law, as a “crime of violence” and therefore subject to penalties of escalating severity for subsequent similar offenses. People prohibited from using firearms in Pennsylvania include individuals who have been convicted of aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, escape from prison, impersonating a police officer, fugitives, and false report of a missing firearm. For a complete list, visit www.CeaseFirePA.org/prohibited.

   Now the bill must be considered by the Pennsylvania State Senate. While the bill faced little opposition in the House, concerns remain that the gun lobby, more concerned with their extreme political agenda than with public safety, may attempt to use HB 2331 as a vehicle for other proposals that have been denounced by municipal and law enforcement officials – such as creating special legal standing for the gun lobby to sue municipalities that have taken local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers (based on HB 1523 and SB 1438), or prematurely eliminating the state background check system (based on HB 2127).

   CeaseFirePA congratulates the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for taking a decisive stand against felons and other criminals who flout Pennsylvania law and continue to endanger communities by carrying, using, transferring guns illegally – and encourages the Pennsylvania Senate to take similar action by considering HB 2331 quickly and without distractions from unrelated amendments.

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.