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Newtown Killings Prompt Vows to Revisit PA's Gun Laws

90.5 WESA

The shooting deaths of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut are already spurring some state lawmakers to call for new gun safety legislation. All but the House Republicans have confirmed the shootings are likely to prompt discussion of Pennsylvania’s gun policies.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said there are no cure-alls that could prevent the same kind of mass shooting in the commonwealth, but targeting illegal sales of firearms could keep guns out of the wrong hands: “people with mental health problems, people with criminal records, people who are too young, people with bad intent,” he said.

This fall, the governor signed into a law a measure to raise the mandatory minimum prison sentence for people convicted of selling guns illegally. Senate Republicans touted that effort, and said more review is “imperative.”

“In addition to reviewing gun laws, we should also take an in-depth look at the statutes governing access to mental health treatment in Pennsylvania,” said spokesman Erik Arneson.

One House Democrat says there’s more work to do on assault weapons. Representative Ron Waters (D-Philadelphia) has proposed banning such guns four or five times, by his own count.

“These weapons make it easier for people to kill people,” said Waters. He announced today that he’ll introduce the proposed ban again next year, and he’ll eagerly await testimony from those who don’t want further regulation of the various kinds of assault weapons. The Connecticut shootings may have changed the climate in the Capitol, said Waters – he’s already receiving calls of support from colleagues. Of course, so far, the calls are coming from only his side of the aisle.

A spokesman for House Republicans did not return a request for comment.