HARRISBURG - Mayor Nutter said yesterday that his goal is to meet with all 253 lawmakers in Harrisburg as part of a concentrated effort by his administration to advance Philadelphia's agenda in the Capitol.
"We're going to spend a significant amount of time here in Harrisburg - not just me, but other members of the administration," Nutter said at the monthly luncheon of the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg, adding that he's been to the Capitol four times since taking office in January.
"I think we have a great story to tell about Philadelphia," he told the room of about 120 reporters, lobbyists and government officials. "We have our challenges, we have our problems, no question about it. But there are many good things going on in Philadelphia."
As part of that strategy, Nutter said he would create a new position, based in Harrisburg, for an employee to help advance issues important to Philadelphia. The city already contracts with outside lobbyists, but Nutter said the person hired would be a city worker with no client but the city.
Among his top priorities, Nutter said, is working with lawmakers to enact "commonsense" gun-control measures that he believes would benefit all municipalities, not just Philadelphia and other urban areas.
Though he touched on other topics, including the city's casinos and the importance of additional funding for public education, Nutter dedicated the majority of his speech to the gun issue.
Nutter called himself a "strong supporter" of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but argued that in many Philadelphia neighborhoods - as well as in other parts of the state - "it is virtually impossible to exercise your First Amendment right to peacefully assemble because you can't feel safe on the streets."
He said he would push legislation to crack down on assault weapons such as the one that killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. He also supports legislation requiring lost and stolen guns to be reported, which has overwhelming support from Philadelphia lawmakers, but which was recently defeated in the House.
City Council approved, and Nutter has signed into law, bills that limit handgun purchases to one a month; ban certain assault weapons; require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms; prohibit gun possession by people subject to protection-from-abuse orders; and allow removal of guns from "persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury" to themselves or others.
But the National Rifle Association has opposed the bills in court. The NRA has opposed the gun-control measures, saying they are an infringement on Second Amendment rights.
"I am prepared to work with anyone, anywhere, at any time, under any set of circumstances, who is serious about addressing this issue," Nutter said yesterday. "No discussion, no group, no organization is off-limits or off-bounds."