Bob Casey’s Profound About-Face on Gun Control

In 2009, during his first term in the U.S. Senate, Bob Casey voted to allow guns on Amtrak trains. He was not a believer in gun control, and his votes showed it.

A little more than three years later, 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. In a matter of days, Casey flipped positions. The Democrat has since become a gun control advocate. He was the first to introduce gun control legislation after the massacre in Orlando.

Sen. Casey sat down with Philadelphia magazine on Friday for an interview about his reversal, his bill that would prohibit those convicted of hate crimes from buying guns, and the future of gun control measures in the Senate. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How did you come to change your stance on gun control?
In some ways, it happened over a three- or four-day period — from Friday to Tuesday. That tragedy in Newtown changed my view forever.

It wasn’t just “How will you handle this issue going forward,” but: “How will you vote?” At that point and time, I had been in the Senate six years, we never really had significant gun votes. We maybe had 1 or 2, but they weren’t three major up-or-down votes like we had with the military-style weapons, the clips/magazines and the background checks — they were the major three, in the spring of ’13. Read more »

After the Latest Freddie Gray Acquittal, All I Feel Is Numb

Officer Caesar Goodson (left) on the day he was acquitted of murder charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. (left) on the day he was acquitted of all charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

What more can you write, post, scream, cry, cuss and pontificate about after a while? At some point, there’s a leaden numbness that creeps into the blood when these moments announce themselves. They’re like bizarro action movies; the whole narrative is reversed, and while we experience the same series of fake climaxes and plot twists, by the time of the denouement, you feel foolish, remembering and realizing that when you sat down to watch this play out, the outcome was never in question.

That’s what Freddie Gray’s death and court proceedings surrounding it feel like to me: the predictable outcome to a decidedly fucked-up action film. As the latest verdict was handed down involving Gray’s death, that old feeling came crawling back again. The initial incident literally set Baltimore ablaze, confounding many people inside and outside the city as to why so many blacks would feel inclined to protest so much, so angrily, so loudly and so violently. In that sense, that’s when the country feels the most unflatteringly colorblind; an entire nation, it seems, incapable of understanding what could be troubling people to act out in such a manner, taking to the streets in protest.

It can be hard to appreciate that those moments aren’t only about Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner. It can be hard to understand that black people in this country are intimately familiar with injustice. These murders don’t represent mere incidents of injustice, of “he said, authority said” narratives; these represent a legacy in the country so old it makes these situations preordained. We’ve been here before is what I’m saying. The constant exoneration and adulation of law enforcement makes sense if it’s never been a cudgel used against you.

I remember being a child in elementary school, drawing and coloring policemen: the bright smiles, the shiny caps, the impeccable uniforms and the billy clubs that seemed more likely to be used to shoo away dogs or, at worst, winos. I remember a school field trip to a police station; donning one of those uniform caps, the adult-sized hat falling over my eyes and me playfully tilting it back so that I could see. Sitting in the passenger seat of a cruiser as an officer showed me how the radio dispatch worked; clapping and laughing with my classmates when the stationary cruiser’s sirens were turned on, blue-red-blue-red-blue-red-blue-red whipping across our faces. Read more »

Own a Firearm? Get a Goddamn Gun Lock

GunLock

Photo by iStock.com

A 4-year-old girl died in North Philadelphia yesterday after a bullet exploded through her head.

Think about the violence of that sentence for a second. A child — a baby, really — met the kind of death you’d normally associate with a soldier on some hellacious battlefield. Whatever possibilities her future held were gone in an instant on a muggy summer afternoon.

Philadelphia Police Department spokesman Lt. John Stanford said today that it appears the child died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was at home with her mother and 3-year-old sister when her life ended in a sudden thunderclap.

Read more »

WATCH: Heroic SEPTA Bus Driver Jumps Out of Vehicle to Chase Down Thief

SEPTA has released surveillance footage of a courageous bus driver who it says stopped an attempted purse theft on June 20th. The driver, Charles Arterbury, jumped off the bus to chase down the assailant early in the morning, police said.

The incident happened at 29th Street and Girard Avenue around 4:40 a.m. According to law enforcement officials, a woman was waiting to board the bus when a man approached her and grabbed her purse. After a struggle, she was flung to the ground. Police said Arterbury chased after the thief, subdued him with the help of two passengers, and then called 9-1-1.

“It was directly related to the courageous acts of Mr. Arterbury that police responded quickly and were able to make a successful apprehension here,” said SEPTA Police Captain Charles Lawson. Read more »

Simmons Was the Right Pick, But the Sixers Will Still Have a Losing Year

Ben Simmons | Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons | Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

About the only thing that was disappointing Thursday night at the NBA Draft was that the Philadelphia 76ers couldn’t start their perimeter player process.

The Sixers did the absolute right thing in selecting 6’10” Ben Simmons, who projects anywhere on the floor from point guard to power forward. Simmons is a phenomenal, transcendent talent. And don’t worry about his shooting statistics in college. Look at his release. It’s pure. The ball comes off his fingertips like it should. He’s going to grow into a nice shooter in this league because his fundamentals are good. He’s not Nerlens Noel, who has no chance to be a good shooter in this league. Noel shoots the ball as if his left hand is attached to his right and vice-versa.

But speaking of Noel, he now becomes one of six Sixers men who are 6’10” or more: Simmons, Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric (if he ever comes to the states), Joel Embiid (if he ever plays) and Richaun Holmes (the guy least likely to get playing time).

Notice there are very few players on the Sixers roster right now who can play on the perimeter and shoot a jump shot that would open up the offense enough to actually utilize these big men. All of a sudden Robert Covington has become Steph Curry, because he’s the only supposed shooter on the roster. Read more »

25-Year-Old Police Officer Shot in Delco

iStockphoto.com | artolympic

iStockphoto.com | artolympic

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Police officer Christopher Dorman, 25, was shot multiple times this morning in Folcroft, a suburb west of Philadelphia near the city’s airport. Police have arrested a suspect, whose name has not been released yet, according to Philly.com.

Dorman was responding to reports of people smoking narcotics around 9:45 a.m. when he was shot, police said. A search was conducted in the area, which shut down the Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail Line. The apartment complex where the shooting took place is near the Folcroft Station on the 1500 block of Elmwood Street. Read more »

SCOTUS Deadlock on Obama’s Immigration Plan: Shameful and Wrong

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On November 20, 2014, Philadelphians at Taquitos de Puebla watched President Obama announce his plan to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants. | Photos by Sabrina Vourvoulias

One of my most vivid memories in recent years is of the evening of November 20th, 2014, when I was in an overcrowded South Philly eatery watching television. President Barack Obama was on the air, announcing that he was taking executive action to offer temporary deportation relief to an estimated 4 million undocumented people via programs that helped undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (known was “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans,” or DAPA) as well as undocumented people who arrived in the country before age 16 (extended “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA+).

Inside Taquitos de Puebla on 9th Street, the atmosphere was electric with hope. Those who qualified would be able to get out of a shadow economy that relies on their labor without according them any protections, and conduct their daily lives without the soul-crushing fear that at any moment agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could swoop down to deport them.

Almost immediately, the president’s executive actions were challenged legally, and for two years those people with whom I had celebrated that November night carefully banked their hopes and waited as the legal case wound its way through the lower courts to the Supreme Court.

This Thursday, those hopes were dashed after the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on the issue, a non-decision that effectively lets the lower court’s injunction stand. Read more »

Funeral for Philly Victim of Orlando Shooting Is Today

A funeral service is being held today for Akyra Murray, the Philadelphia teen victim of the massacre in Orlando on June 12th. She was the youngest victim of the 49 shot dead at Pulse nightclub.

It was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. this morning. The Inquirer reports mourners were streaming into Monument Baptist Church at 50th and Locust streets in West Philadelphia by 8 a.m. for the viewing.

Murray, 18, was a 2016 graduate of West Catholic Prep. She had signed to play basketball at Mercyhurst University this fall. Read more »

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