Lt. Gov. Austin Davis applauded the state House for taking action Monday on gun safety legislation.
“Every Pennsylvanian deserves to be safe from gun violence, and the Pennsylvania House took bold steps today to address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities,” Davis said after the approval of House Bills 714 and 1018.
“This violence is unacceptable, and we’ve waited too long to take action,” the lieutenant governor continued. “Firearms are the leading cause of death for young people in Pennsylvania, and on average someone is killed with a gun every five hours in Pennsylvania.”
He applauded bipartisan support for their respective approvals, but it was narrow in both cases — and included no lawmakers from the region around Indiana.
HB 714, which would require background checks on every sale of a firearm, was approved by 109-92, with several Republicans joining most Democrats.
An exception was Rep. Frank Burns, D-East Taylor Township, who voted no along with every area Republican, including Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, who also voted no in a party-line House Appropriations Committee consideration of that bill.
It also was approved in the House Judiciary Committee by a party-line vote, including a no vote from Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Cambria County.
House Bill 1018 would provide a mechanism for loved ones, family members or law enforcement to ask a judge to hold a hearing to temporarily disarm someone in crisis — otherwise known as a “red flag” mechanism.
It was approved by 102-99, with Burns again among the no votes, but two Republicans, Reps. Joe Hogan and Kathleen Tomlinson, both from Bucks County, were among the yes votes.
Forty-six House Democrats co-sponsored HB 714, while 14 more Democrats joined to co-sponsor HB 1018.
Both bills were introduced after the resignation of one of those 46 Democrats, Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware County, amid accusations of sexual harassment from several women.
“As Lieutenant Governor, I urge my colleagues in the Pennsylvania Senate to bring these bills up for consideration,” said Davis, who also is president of the state Senate but where Republicans are in the majority by 28-22. “Let’s have a full, open and honest debate about what we can all do to make our schools and neighborhoods safer. The Shapiro-Davis Administration is ready to participate in this conversation, but we cannot allow this unacceptable level of violence to shatter families and communities any longer. Pennsylvanians are counting on us to get this done.”
Davis also chairs the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
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