In commemoration of the first March for Our Lives student-led demonstration that followed the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, activist groups CeaseFirePA and March For Our Lives gathered at the State Capitol in Harrisburg Thursday to rally for stronger gun control laws.
The rally coincided with an exchange between Democratic State Senator Steve Santarsiero (S-10) and Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry regarding the need to close the remaining loophole for the sale of long guns by implementing universal background checks, during a budget hearing.
Background checks are one of the few measures in the Commonwealth to prevent firearms from being accessed by those prohibited by state law from possessing them.
A.G. Henry also detailed how “straw” purchases have enabled guns to fall into the hands of those barred from having them.
“Do you think it would be helpful that there would be some kind of rule in place whereby if a gun owner’s gun or firearm is stolen, that they would have an obligation to notify the police of that fact,” Santarsiero asked Henry. The Attorney General agreed that it would and said that specific data and intelligence is always helpful.
Additionally, Santarsiero along with Democratic Senator John Kane (S-9) announced on Tuesday their intention to introduce two pieces of legislation related to gun control.
The first would create a voluntary “Do-Not-Sell Firearm Registry” to reduce self-harm and suicides in Pennsylvania.
The second would expand the definition of assault weapons, prohibit the sale of military-style assault weapons, eliminate the sale of gun magazines with more than ten rounds and offer a buy-back program for gun owners with firearms that would no longer be permitted under the newly proposed legislation.
Santarsiero has been working on protecting Pennsylvanians from gun violence for more than a decade. “There is no shortage of people looking for some sort of reining in of this onslaught of weapons in our communities,” he said.
Because Congress has failed to act, Santarsiero believes it is incumbent upon individual states to enact common sense gun legislation.
“We’ve been working with Sandy Hook promise. We’ve been working with some of the families of Sandy Hook as well as all the other gun violence prevention advocates like CeaseFirePA and Every Town and Mom’s Demand Action,” Santarsiero said. “These are all reasonable pieces of legislation that over 80 percent in most cases of gun owners support. As long as I serve in the legislature, that’s going to be one of my priorities.”