G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young: Why gun control legislation stalls in Pa.

G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young: Why gun control legislation stalls in Pa.

Easton Area High School students gather to talk about school safety and gun control in April, a national day of action on the anniversary of the shooting massacre at Columbine High School. (APRIL GAMIZ/MORNING CALL FILE PHOTO) America has endured 154 mass shootings so far this year — from Parkland, Fla., to Annapolis, Md. Despite this national carnage, nothing so far has moved the Pennsylvania state 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 into 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 hand gun ownership. Instead, they were the product of a broadly bipartisan consensus that raised only modest controversy. These bills included HB 273 , which would allow people to voluntarily put themselves on a no-buy firearm list, and HB 2463 , which would create a legal process to reinstate the right to buy firearms to those who temporarily lost that right through emergency involuntary commitments for mental health issues. […]

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