Examining ‘Pennsylvania paradox’ on gun regulation

Examining ‘Pennsylvania paradox’ on gun regulation

G. Terry Madonna is a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. Michael L. Young is a former professor of politics and public affairs at Penn State University and managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research. Madonna and Young encourage responses to the column and can be reached, respectively, at terry.madonna@fandm.edu and drmikelyoung@comcast.net . America has, by one measure, endured 154 mass shootings so far this year — from Parkland, Florida, to Annapolis, Maryland. Despite this national carnage, nothing so far has moved the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass even the most innocuous gun control legislation. Why? Clearly the answer is not lack of opportunity. Scores and scores of gun control measures are routinely introduced in the Legislature to no avail. Good old-fashioned interest-group politics explains some of the Legislature’s paralysis. Pennsylvania is rich with both sportsmen and sportsmen lobbies. The National Rifle Association alone is arguably the most powerful lobby in the state, making gun measures still the third rail of state politics. This year, however, several gun control measures seemed ripe for passage. These were not the perennially divisive bills such as those that would limit the sale of automatic or semi-automatic weapons or seek to restrict handgun ownership. Instead, they were the product of a broadly bipartisan consensus that raised only modest controversy. These bills included House Bill 273, which would allow people to voluntarily put themselves on a no-buy firearm list; and House Bill 2463, which would create a legal process to […]

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