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Assault Weapons Ban? Here’s Where Lehigh Valley Lawmakers Stand

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has change of heart, backs ban, as does Representative-Elect Cartwright.

On the hot-button issue of banning semi-automatic assault weapons, one area congressman-elect has come out swinging and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania has had a change of heart.

Casey, who just won a second term, told the Philadelphia Inquirer recently that he was haunted by images from the massacre at Newtown where Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother before murdering 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Previously, he had opposed an assault weapons ban, but since Newtown he had decided he would support one as well as a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

“The power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me,” Casey said.

A Patch story asking Lehigh Valley readers for their opinion on an assault weapons ban drew close to 300 comments.

U.S. Representative-Elect Matt Cartwright, who will be sworn in for his first term representing the 17th District on Jan. 3, talked about his support for a ban in an op-ed piece in The Morning Call on Dec. 27.

“This kind of firepower is not necessary for hunting or self-defense,” wrote Cartwright, who fills the seat held by Rep. Tim Holden. “Our American experience has showed us example after example of assault rifles and high-capacity clips being used in mass killings of innocent people.”

Cartwright and Casey won’t have to wait long to co-sponsor legislation on a ban. Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced that she will introduce such a bill on the first day of the new session and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York plan to introduce a companion bill in the House.

Without saying categorically how they would vote on such a measure, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15, and Sen. Pat Toomey have steered clear of endorsing a ban.

Dent issued a statement saying he wants Congress to “examine all of the possible solutions” including such aspects as increased school security and training school personnel, reviewing measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, getting help for those who exhibit "severe emotional problems or violent tendencies" and looking at the role violent entertainment might play in such incidents. 

Dent Spokesman Shawn Millan said the congressman isn’t endorsing the NRA position of putting a police officer or armed guard in every school. But Dent wants to look at ways to enhance security in schools so they would be more protected from attacks.

Toomey’s office, which failed to respond to a request for comment, told the Morning Call that “among other things, we need to have a discussion about the best way to better identify and protect ourselves from dangerous and mentally deranged individuals who seek to carry out such atrocities.”

Several local mayors have weighed in on the issue by signing a letter from more than 750 mayors to President Barack Obama supporting laws to “get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets” and “require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check.”

Among the signers were Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr., West Easton Mayor Gerald W. Gross, Wilson Mayor David Perruso and Emmaus Mayor Winfield Iobst.

The letter also says measures should be taken to beef up enforcement of gun laws already on the books, such as prosecuting people who are prohibiting from buying firearms who attempt to do so.

“In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred more than 71,000 such cases to ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], but U.S. Attorneys ultimately prosecuted only 77 of them,” the letter said.   

JD March 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM
They don't need an AR-15 to take down a boar just like you don't need one to take down an elk or a bear. They obviously have people in Texas that cannot shoot worth a damn!
John Fox March 22, 2013 at 07:01 PM
JD arguing with you is like playing chess with a pigeon. no matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon (you) will only knock over the pieces shit all over the game board and strut around looking victorious. So this is my final response to you: You inferred that only crazy people own AR-15 rifles and I presented you with a legitimate use for an AR-15 (you know because target shooting, exercising my rights, and being able to defend my family are apparently crazy reasons to own one) and you just dismiss it because it doesn't fit with your thought process. Me and the other 2 million or so AR owners in the country will continue to enjoy our modern sporting rifles. At one point nearly every firearm design was a "military style" rifle, Leaver action rifles were once the "high capacity assault rifle" During the civil war a few union solders were equipped with leaver action repeating rifles and the confederates called it "the Yankee rifle that they could load on Sunday and shoot all week." If the "cannot shoot worth a damn" argument was valid argument to not use and AR rifle for hunting (which it isn't) than I hope that you only use a single shot rifle to hunt, because if you need more than one shot, obviously you cannot shoot worth a damn. And who needs those self contained cartridges too!! You don't need anything more than a muzzle-loader.
Rich Cranium March 22, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I think JD might need this: http://static.seton.com/media/catalog/product/burn-Cream-tube-ba.jpg
JD March 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM
We should allow blind people and people with down's syndrome to hunt and drive.
Rich Cranium March 25, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Wow John was right, pigeon playing chess.

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