A Modest Proposal: Let’s Keep Guns Out of Kids’ Hands

Sheriff Jewell Williams (left) demonstrates how to use a gun lock while District Attorney Seth Williams (center) and City Council President Darrell Clarke (look on).

Sheriff Jewell Williams (left) demonstrates how to use a gun lock while District Attorney Seth Williams (center) and City Council President Darrell Clarke (look on).

Did you hear the great news?

Philadelphia got through the Democratic National Convention in one piece, proving once again that it can host Big Events every bit as well as some of the nation’s other largest cities. Self-congratulatory pats on the back for everybody!

But …  hang on for a second. As much as we’d love to hammer another nail in the coffin that holds the city’s generations-old inferiority complex, we still have major quality-of-life issues that will linger long after the last multi-colored donkey is removed. Like youth gun violence, for instance.

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NATIONAL NEWS: A Transgender Bathroom Ad Causes Big Buzz

Screenshot from the controversial bathroom ad.

Screenshot from the controversial bathroom ad.

A national TV ad depicting transgender bathroom discrimination will premiere during the Republican National Convention.

A new ad spotlighting the bathroom discrimination struggles faced by transgender people will make its national television debut on the FOX News channel on Thursday, July 21st, during the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The 60-second ad, now available to watch at www.FairnessUSA.org, features a transgender woman from North Carolina, where HB2 passed earlier this year, discussing how the lack of state and federal nondiscrimination protections affects her every day. HB2 makes it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the gender they live, making them susceptible to even higher levels of harassment and violence. The ad has had thousands of views since its online release on Monday. After the RNC, the ad will run again run nationally on MSNBC during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the following week. Read more »

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 »

Local Democrats Join Unprecedented House Sit-in For Gun Control

In a nod to decades-old, traditional-style protesting, several local Democrats were among more than 200 total to participate in a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, demanding tighter gun control in the wake of Orlando’s mass shooting — the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.

Representatives Bob Brady, Mike DoyleBrendan Boyle and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Donald Norcross of New Jersey joined in to demand a vote on legislation that would bolster background checks and prohibit suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. Democrats called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to debate and vote on gun legislation next week, despite a scheduled recess.

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Both Pa. Senators Joined Filibuster Seeking Better Gun Control

Both of Pennsylvania’s Senators took park in a marathon filibuster that called for gun limits yesterday.

Starting 11 a.m. yesterday through early this morning, Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut held the Senate floor to call for stricter gun control following the country’s worst ever mass shooting this past weekend in Orlando.

Pa. Senators Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, joined Murphy. All three live-tweeted the marathon, thanking the flood of supporters who reached out via social media, calls and emails.

By Wednesday night, #filibuster was trending on Twitter. The marathon ran for 15 hours.

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You Can Buy an AR-15 in Philadelphia in About 5 Minutes

Photo of an AR-15. (iStock)

Photo of an AR-15. (iStock)

The vast majority of people who own guns use them in a perfectly legal and responsible manner, but folks who seek to maim and murder in large numbers seem to have an affinity for one particular type of weapon: the AR-15. Orlando shooter Omar Mateen selected an AR-15 to slaughter 49 people and injure dozens more inside a gay club over the weekend, joining the list of AR-15-loyal mass killers James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Chris Harper-Mercer, and husband-and-wife terrorist team Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. And thanks to the National Rifle Association, buying an AR-15 in Pennsylvania couldn’t be easier. Read more »

Jonathan Papelbon Owns an “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns” T-Shirt

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon after being ejected form the game for hitting Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (not pictured) with a pitch in a September 23rd game.

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon after being ejected form the game for hitting Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (not pictured) with a pitch in a September 23rd game.

Jonathan Papelbon is at the height of Wildwood boardwalk fashion.

The former Phillies closer was traded to the Washington Nationals in July of last year, was disappointing as the team’s new closer, then got into a dugout fight with NL MVP Bryce Harper late in the season.

He’s still the Nationals’ closer for the 2016 season. And at the start of spring training last week, Papelbon held a press conference apologizing for his role in the fight with Harper last year. “I was in the wrong,” he said.

But, according to Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, Papelbon had an idea for a shirt he’d wear to the press conference: One with cut-off sleeves that read, “Obama can’t ban these guns.” Read more »

The Brief: The Return of Local Gun Control

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Photo: Shutterstock.com

1. Now that the Commonwealth Court has overturned a controversial law making local gun control efforts harder to enact, will cities and towns get back into the gun control game?

The gist: Last week, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled that Act 192 — a state law that made it far easier for the National Rifle Association to challenge local gun control ordinances — is unconstitutional. It was a a rare victory for gun control advocates in Pennsylvania. After Act 192 was adopted by the legislature in 2014, dozens of local municipalities repealed their gun control ordinances, rather than risk getting sued by the NRA, and getting stuck with big legal bills. If the Commonwealth Court’s ruling stands, the old status quo would return. At Newsworks, Bill Hangley explores what the impact of the ruling is likely to be: Read more »

Jersey Man Gets More Than 60,000 Signatures on Petition for Chris Christie to Pardon Him on Gun Charge


New Jersey is well known to have some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. Get caught with a BB gun that you didn’t register with the state (you read that right: You have to register BB guns), and you could go to jail for three years or more. Philadelphia mom Shaneen Allen found out just how tough those laws were when she narrowly escaped jail time after bringing her legally registered gun into New Jersey. And now we’re learning about a 24-year-old New Jersey man having his own battle with the system. Read more »

The Continuing Fight Against Gun Violence: Can Smart Guns Keep Your Kid From Becoming the Next Adam Lanza?

Sandy Hingston One Against The Gun Pins

Photograph By Claudia Gavin

Shortly after I finished writing about gun control for the January issue of Philly Mag, the American Psychological Association issued a report on the causes of gun violence. The report, commissioned in response to the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings, examined risk factors for gun violence and strategies for combating it. One of its authors was Susan B. Sorenson, a professor at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice and director of Penn’s Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence. Just before the New Year, Sorenson spoke with me about the report and her work.

Q: How did you come to focus on family violence in your professional life?

A: I was originally trained as a clinical psychologist, but I found it frustrating seeing people after the fact — seeing the damage. I realized you could view family violence from a public-health perspective. If we could just move upstream a bit and address the social issues, maybe that would help. Because there’s a psychological component to such violence, but there are social issues as well.

Q: The APA report notes that when it comes to mass shootings, “there is no consistent psychological profile or set of warning signs that can be used reliably to identify such individuals in the general population.” Is the reason researchers haven’t been able to develop such a profile that such shootings are so rare?

A: “Rampage shootings,” as they’re called, are rare. There are some similarities among those who commit them, but then, there are a whole lot of people who have these signs. Trying to identify which individual is likely to commit a mass shooting in which setting, with what weapon — we’re not there yet. We’re just not there. Risk assessment is like medicine. We can tell you you’re at a high risk for heart disease if you’re not exercising, you eat a bad diet and you have a genetic predisposition. But we can’t say, “Okay, that means you’re going to have a heart attack.” Read more »

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