If Pennsylvania legislators want to make the state's mothers happy on Mother's Day, they can give them what they want. It's simple: They want their children to be safe, to have a chance to grow up and fulfill their dreams.
The way to their hearts is to give mothers – and fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and friends – reasonable gun safety laws.
This is the moment. Soon, the legislature will be fighting over the budget, then will break for summer, and then will get preoccupied with the elections, in which all 203 House seats, half of the 50 Senate seats, and the governorship are up.
Passing sensible gun bills isn't a heavy lift. Of the dozens of bills being considered, there are about six key proposals that would make a difference, especially on gun safety. Much of the groundwork on gun safety bills has been done. In April, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin) rightly heard from legislators on a handful of bills that the gun industry lobby has bottled up in his committee for years. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf (R., Montgomery) also needs to get moving. While his committee released a bill to take guns away from violent domestic abusers, his committee still has a lot more work to do.
Interest in gun legislation doesn't matter; passing bills, and upgrading Pennsylvania's poor safety standards, does.
Legislators should not think that the outrage over gun violence in this country will subside any time soon. In fact, it's a growing concern in Pennsylvania. According to a March Franklin and Marshall poll, 72 percent of Pennsylvania voters favor gun safety laws. That's up from 61 percent in September.
On the finer points of specific actions, the poll found, "Most registered voters in Pennsylvania strongly favor enhancing the gun background check system (86%), banning assault-style weapons (61%), and raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 (59%)." Even a majority of gun owners favor "banning assault weapons (52%), enhanced background checks (86%), and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 (58%)," according to the poll.
Harrisburg should get the message: There's no reason Pennsylvanians shouldn't see action in the next few weeks.
The most effective measures are bills that force gun owners to lock their guns away from children, take guns away from domestic abusers as well as those who pose a danger to themselves or others, expand background checks to include long guns transferred in private sales, raise the minimum age to purchase weapons to 21, and trace crime guns to get a better handle on the Pennsylvania illegal gun pipeline.
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School slaughter in Parkland, Fla., several states, including Florida, passed bills to toughen gun laws. So, too, can Pennsylvania without taking guns away from responsible owners.
Legislators, listen to the mothers. Protect the children, the parents, and the rest of us, because it's your job. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, call them, email them, and let them know now or on Nov. 6, Election Day, how you feel about gun safety.