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DN Editorial: Shooting blanks

Who does the Pa. legislature work for: the public or the NRA?

Exhibitors set up for the NRA's three-day convention in Houston.
Exhibitors set up for the NRA's three-day convention in Houston.Read more

USUALLY it takes us at least a week or two after Harrisburg comes back to work after the summer to get exasperated or outraged at our state lawmakers.

But this time, it's taken less than 24 hours.

Lawmakers returned Monday from summer break; they'll convene for 11 days between now and late October, before another break for the election. (The Senate will convene a total of 10 days.) And, no, that's not even what we're upset about.

Nor is it that the cigarette tax needed for the schools still hasn't passed; it is at least moving toward a vote.

No, what's got us peeved is that among the many weighty issues that the state must confront - pensions, liquor privatization, education funding, to name just a few - the only items that seem a sure shot are two that relate to . . . wait for it . . .


Two bills up for consideration include one that would allow the NRA to sue municipalities that try to pass laws controlling guns more stringently than the state and another that would allow teachers to carry weapons into school.

If we were to write one of those young-adult dystopian novels that have become so popular, we'd write about a twisted society in the future in which a special-interest group representing lethal weapons ruled the country . . . oh wait. Too late. Already happened.

We're accustomed by now to lawmaking bodies, including Congress, bowing to the will of the NRA. But this seems a particularly blatant form of water-carrying - and since the result of the bill would punish cities in the commonwealth at the behest of an outside organization, strikes us as bordering on treasonous.

Mind you, the kind of laws that we're talking about that cities across the state want to impose aren't laws prohibiting gun sales. They're laws that, among other things, require reporting lost and stolen guns, or ban assault weapons, or prohibit guns in parks. They're not only commonsense protections, but also driven by the huge divide among big cities plagued by gun violence and a General Assembly that seems to turn a blind eye to that violence.

But for the thin-skinned NRA, paranoid that every gun measure is part of a secret plot of the government to take away people's guns, even these regulations go too far. The bill before the house would allow the NRA to sue any town trying to pass gun laws stricter than the state - and to collect damages.

It's shocking that mayors who want to save the health or the lives of their constituents can ban sugary drinks, or limit tobacco use or cellphone use of drivers. But their attempts at regulating the most deadly product of all is forbidden.

In another ridiculous move, there is also a pending bill that would allow teachers and other school employees to carry concealed firearms to school.

This is a week after a Utah teacher was injured when her gun went off accidentally, hit a toilet and sprayed shrapnel into her. (At the very least, she should be fired for failing to pass minimum IQ standards.)

In the next minute, conjure up as many potential nightmares as you can from a law like this. We're betting the list is long, starting with a teacher's gun going off in the classroom.

We urge Harrisburg to get serious about the issues that matter and will help the state - and not an outside organization that happens to donate to their re-election.