Arizona Shooting Puts Pa.'s Gun Laws in Sharp Focus

Think Pa.’s gun laws would have blocked Jared Loughner’s purchases? Think again.

By Michael Alan Goldberg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Jan. 18, 2011

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That stance doesn’t sit very well with Horwitz. “The mental-health profession has been saying that kind of thing for years, but it’s about time they changed their tune because it’s really unconscionable to say that people with serious mental illness should be able to have a gun without any kind of background check.

“I don’t think every mentally ill person is a danger, but those that are should not be able to get guns, and there are many people who are dangerous who have not gotten to the level of involuntary commitment.”

So the question now becomes, will Harrisburg consider legislation that would expand our current gun laws regarding mental-health evaluations? State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) thinks it’s time to try again, even with the arrival of the gun-friendly Corbett administration.

“It’s important to have the most extensive background check that we possibly can,” Farnese says. I’m not talking about making someone wait six months—we’re talking about maybe a couple more days. The problem is, when you want to go and make the application or evaluation process a little more involved, you get a lot of pushback from the NRA and other groups like that.”

“We don’t have to make wholesale changes, and I’m not trying to take people’s guns away,” he says. “There are common-sense rules that can be implemented that will protect the public safety, which is the first duty of government, and still not violate people’s Second Amendment rights or discriminate against a particular group of society.”

Goldsmith hopes that a reasonable compromise can be hammered out in time to help Pennsylvania better combat its own Jared Loughners. “Society is all about taking competing interests and finding the right balance. A lot of these massacres are from people who have mental illnesses. Obviously you want to protect the rights of people with mental illness, but you also want to protect people from people who have mental illness. I think we have a little more work to do in Pennsylvania to find that right balance.” ■

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1. Lou Gots said... on Jan 19, 2011 at 02:01PM

“This is about shifting the burden of proof from the state to the individual. Under such a regime, one who has voluntarily availed him or herself of mental health services is automatically flagged as dangerous, and put in the position of proving that he is not.

It gets worse, passing over the delay and expense, which would be considerable, we should recall that the mental health professionals do not deal in simple, black-and-white certainties. They cannot be expected to guaranty that a patient cannot to the wrong thing at some point in the future”

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2. Bill Snow said... on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:29PM

“Guns do not kill people. People kill people. Knife, razor, ice pick, axe, chain saw, rope, chain, tire iron, hammer, sykle, base ball bat, two by four, electrical shock, gasoline , burning, push down stairs, poisoning, drowning, hit and run by auto, tie to train track, starvation, freeze to death, suffication by use of plastic bag over head, hanging, And the list of ways to kill someone goes on and on. A gun will not do a thing untill it is picked up and fired. Why not ban the things listed above that can be used to kill someone. We need our guns to protect our selves and our families. The police cannot be with us 24/7. And even if they were, would it help? The answer is to let us have our guns. It is our right as Americans.”

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