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Oregon shooting revives conversation about gun regulations

Joanna Harlow
Online Editor
ejh1498@lhup.edu

In the wake of the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon last week, guns have once again moved to the forefront of the senate race.

Democratic candidate and former chief of staff for Governor Tom Wolf,  Katie McGinty,  is calling on Senator Pat Toomey to take action.

“Two years ago, following the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook, you did the right thing when you co-sponsored and introduced the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013,” McGinty writes in an open letter to Toomey.

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The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013 would make records available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System including mental health records and criminal history dispositions. It would also extend background check requirements to transfers of firearms other than those made at gun shows or over the Internet, or to temporary transfers for purposes including lawful hunting or sporting or to temporary possession of a firearm for purposes of examination or evaluation by a prospective transferee.

“Sen. Toomey is 100 percent committed to expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,’’ Elizabeth Anderson, Mr. Toomey’s communications director, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He is open to supporting any legislative effort that accomplishes that goal, including the reintroduction of the Manchin-Toomey bill.”

The bipartisan bill from Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin to strengthen background checks in the wake of Sandy Hook failed by five votes in April 2013. Five of the Democrats who voted in favor of the bill lost their seats to Republicans backed by the NRA.

Toomey told the Washington Post that he was looking for a way to resurrect the legislation with Manchin: “What I’m trying to figure out is, is there something that could get the support of the 60 votes that we would need in the Senate. Joe Manchin was and is a great partner and someone I will continue to work with, and I’m open to exploring what is possible.”

Wed. morning the Pittsburgh Post Gazette  received the following statement from Steve Kelly, press secretary for Toomey’s re-election campaign: “We welcome Katie McGinty’s support of the Toomey-Manchin background checks legislation. If she really wanted to be helpful, she would turn her attention to those who oppose the bill, including her fellow Democrats, rather than trying to concoct far-fetched political attacks against the bill’s sponsor, Pat Toomey.”

The Oregon shooting has raised concerns around the country about on-campus gun regulations. Under Oregon law, the possession of a firearm on school property is legal.

PASSHE universities have the ability to prohibit weapons, including legally registered firearms, in academic buildings, student residence halls, dining facilities, student union buildings, athletic facilities and recreation centers or while attending a sporting, entertainment or educational event on university property or sponsored by the university.  However, PASSHE’s policies also must be consistent with Pennsylvania law, which allows individuals who are properly permitted to carry a firearm ‘on or about one’s person or in a vehicle throughout the Commonwealth.’

At LHU, concealed weapons are prohibited in all buildings and sporting events, with the exception that allows permit holders to carry in open spaces.

Gayatri Devi of Lock Haven’s English department says of on-campus gun control: “There is something intrinsically monstrous and obscene about gun massacres in a place of learning, such as a school or a university.  Guns have no place in a classroom. Violence has no place in a classroom or a university campus, period.

We teach students how to become thoughtful, ethical and just human beings primarily through acquiring knowledge and using their brains. It is monstrous that on a university campus students would shoot before they talk or think. It is very disturbing.

Last year, we had Elliot Rodger at UCSB Isla Vista who shot and murdered students and bystanders because he could not get a date with a woman.  At the time, I  was repulsed to hear the infamous “Joe the Plumber” tell the media loudly that “your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional right” to carry guns.  I am probably the minority report here, but I find a sentiment like that unbelievably arrogant and ignorant.

I don’t own a gun, nor will I ever touch a gun, but I do understand responsible gun ownership and usage, but guns have no place in a classroom or a university campus, period.”

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