TESD Conestoga Teacher Debra Ciamacca Uses Her Powerful Voice to Speak out Against the Arming of Teachers!


Ciamacca, who served as a Marine from 1980-1984 and was in the reserves in 1985, is a high school Social Studies teacher in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of serving as a Marine Corps officer. I felt that serving my country was a calling and a duty. As an officer, I was charged with not only leading, but protecting the young Marines who served with me. I was not a combat Marine — I was an Adjutant/Legal Officer serving at the Camp Pendleton Correctional Facility. But I was trained to fire a weapon. Back then it was the .45 pistol and the M-16 rifle. I was an expert marksman on the M-16 and a sharpshooter on the .45. Not too bad for a nearsighted young Lieutenant who had never fired a weapon before.

Today I am a high school Social Studies teacher. I teach government and politics to some of the brightest young students in America. I love my job — and I love my students. I am responsible for protecting them too. But how far should that protection go?

I tell students at the beginning of each year, that if there is an intruder in the building we will exit my classroom to a second-floor roof through a window near my desk. Students usually laugh, because they think I am kidding. I am not. I have carefully considered the layout of my classroom and its proximity to doors and windows in the building. Going out the window makes sense. That is how I plan to protect my students.

But what else should I do? I will lock my door and barricade it with a file cabinet or a desk. I will pick up a heavy, stainless steel paperweight to use as a weapon to defend myself. I will call 911 and the main office. What I won’t do is pick up a pistol or a rifle or another lethal weapon. Why?

Guns have no place in the classroom. First of all, teachers are in constant close proximity to students. I teach about 150 students per day. The chance for an accidental discharge is guaranteed. Second, I am not trained to make instantaneous life-or-death decisions in a school environment with 2,400 innocent children as possible collateral damage. Even trained police officers have trouble reacting to threats and properly executing the use of deadly force. A good person with a gun can still make bad decisions, especially in highly stressful situations. Lastly, a gun acts as an impediment in my relationships with students. Teachers are guides and mentors and discussion leaders and lecturers. We talk; we cajole; we jump up and down; we clown around. We prance; we laugh; we instruct; we care. We put our whole selves out there to students so that they can see that we are real people. A gun is a barrier that separates me from my students. It says stand back instead of stand up. Weapons are not conducive to the teacher/student relationship.

But let’s talk turkey. The reason the President and the National Rifle Association and others are suggesting that teachers carry weapons in the classroom is that it sounds like a quick and cheap solution to a difficult and expensive problem. I find it incredible that people who don’t trust teachers to meet state and federal education standards now trust teachers to hold the sacred lives of children in their hands. I find it incredible that those who can’t find an extra ten cents in taxes to pay for counselors and psychiatrists and new “gun-proof” buildings can now find money for weapons and bonuses for gun-toting teachers.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I don’t trust folks who think they do. But I do know that we need to reframe this debate. Let’s not talk about school shootings in terms of gun control and mental health. Let’s talk about school safety. Let’s talk about whether we as a society have the will to keep our precious students safe in the place that most demands safety. It’s about getting all the stakeholders in a room: parents, teachers, police, politicians and students, rather than asking teachers to carry the entire load.

Parents must pay a bit more so that the schools can hire security guards and improve building safety features. Police must train a bit harder and faster. Politicians must compromise and risk their seats. And the NRA must stop its absolutist gun-freedom-at-all-cost position.

I pledge to do everything in my power to protect my students. I will run. I will fight. And I will hide if I have to. I will help students to survive an armed intruder if I have to. But I will not arm myself with a gun in my own classroom just because those in power refuse to wield the more powerful weapon of common sense. That is where I draw the line.


Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line, it just matters that you finish!

As an update to my last post, Tredyffrin Township supervisor Matt Holt presented his proposed resolution at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Holt’s motion on the resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws did not receive a ‘second’ when presented during new business.  A second to the proposed motion is required for the motion to have discussion from the Board of Supervisors.

Hearing no second to the motion, Chair Heather Greenberg attempted to move the meeting forward. To their credit, there was an immediate outcry from audience members demanding discussion. After several residents spoke out and a few comments from supervisors about the proposed resolution’s process, insufficient notification, representation of all residents, etc, etc, a new motion was presented by Murph Wysocki and seconded by Sean Moir. The Board passed the motion 7-0 and states that the supervisors will work together on a new resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws to present at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, March 19.

We thank Matt Holt for his proposal to support sensible gun law legislation and applaud the audience members who would not let the motion fail without discussion. Other than the fact that it was a freshman supervisor who initially proposed the resolution, it is unclear why further discussion and re-working is required — but we will look forward to the supervisors working together and presenting a new resolution on March 19.

Coincidentally, State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) sent a constituent email out two hours before last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, stating that he will introduce legislation to address mass shootings.  His proposal will focus on “… identification of potentially troubled individuals, especially young people, support for increased mental health and mental rehabilitation services, and commonsense actions to address firearm issues.”  Included in Kampf’s proposed legislation is the requirement for background checks on all gun sales, the prohibition of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and funding for school security.

Rep. Kampf’s message read in part —

Unlike many who are playing politics or simply appealing to the simplest of emotions, I am making concrete proposals that have a chance of becoming law and making a positive difference. I know that I will be attacked by people on both sides of these issues. Pennsylvania is a diverse state and there are members of both parties who feel as strongly about enacting no controls as there are others who simply want to ban all firearms. We can either watch that fight continue with nothing happening, or we can follow a path toward intellectually honest action, and toward results. That is what I am choosing to do.

Don’t know whether it was Rep. Kampf’s message or the audience members at last night’s meeting who moved the Tredyffrin supervisors to continue discussion on a resolution to support common sense gun control legislation but I’m just glad it did!  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line … all that matters is that you finish!


Enough is Enough — It is Time to Call for Action!

When will the madness end?

Today I grieve for the families who are in mourning.  Today I grieve for an angry, violent society that has lost its way.

Since last week, we have seen a horrible surge of sadness and anger from Americans all across the country — another mass shooting. Another one committed by a young man. One of the worst mass shootings in America – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – as if such rankings matter. From Arizona to Colorado, to Oregon to Connecticut, to Las Vegas to Parkland, Florida – these mass murders will not end.

Innocent children losing their lives.  How many more children must die before we say enough is enough? When are we going to have the responsibility to take care of each other? How can we let this keep happening?

It’s past time to face reality. We, as a nation, need to do better. In the wake of the unspeakable horror of children being killed while at school, now is the time for action and … for sensible gun control laws.

Gun control doesn’t have to mean no guns. Arguments can be made for shotguns and rifles for hunting and handguns for protection. Somewhere, between these moments – the legitimate use of guns for hunting, and the too-easy access to guns by children and the mentally ill – there needs to be a solution. For me, that solution lies in sensible gun control measures.

Sensible gun control, even while keeping the Second Amendment should be easy, but there are many politicians who refuse to act. Reasonable constitutional limits on weapons that have no other use than mass murder are achievable and the failure of our leaders to make this happen is unconscionable.

Common sense would dictate that Congress should act to implement sensible gun control legislation, including a ban on weapons like the AR-15. It’s time to ban assault weapons. We need to make this moment a movement and to actually make changes that need to happen in this country.

Enough … it is time to call for action.

As a nation, as elected officials and as individuals we are obligated to break the log jam against gun reform.

Do you know where your local elected representatives stand on gun control?  In Tredyffrin Township, we are about to find out where our locally elected officials stand on sensible gun control!

Newly elected Tredyffrin supervisor Matt Holt is stepping up to the plate on gun control at Tuesday, Feb. 20th Board of Supervisors meeting, 7 PM at the township building.  Matt will introduce a resolution calling for state and federal representatives to enact sensible gun control legislation.  Although local governments cannot pass gun laws, they can act as a voice for the people to push common sense reform.  (Proposed resolution follows the post).

I supported Matt in November’s election for his strong support of historic preservation – now a few months into his new role as supervisor; I know that I made the right decision. Although unclear as to why Matt’s proposed resolution in support of sensible gun control legislation was not permitted on the Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, he will present it under the township’s ‘new business’.

An easy first step to for sensible gun control legislation, it will be important for the public to know how Mr. Holt’s fellow Tredyffrin Township supervisors vote on the resolution supporting sensible gun control legislation.

Proposed resolution to be introduced by Supervisor Matt Holt at Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7 PM at Township Building:


            WHEREAS, an average of more than 108,000 people are shot and 32,514 people die from gun violence in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, and other shootings;[1] and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors recognizes the Second Amendment and the rights therein, such as the right to individual gun ownership and the right to self-defense, it also recognizes that said rights are not unlimited and support reasonable measures to ensure greater safety in the ownership, procurement and use of guns in our society; and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is charged with securing the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Tredyffrin Township, yet is not recognized as having legal authority to enact gun safety laws, and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors supports its police force in its ability to protect the safety of the citizens, and visitors to, the Township without threat from assault weapons or armed criminals, and

WHEREAS, this resolution has been considered and passed by multiple local governments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors believes additional gun safety laws are needed to protect the safety and health of our residents and urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Unites States Congress to enact laws to reduce gun violence, including:

  1. Preventing known and suspected terrorists, those convicted of violent hate crimes and those with a history of domestic abuse from illegally buying guns.
  2. Funding research into the effect of gun violence and gun safety technology.
  3. Requiring trigger locks on all homes where children are present.
  4. Banning access to assault-style weapons.
  5. Reducing the number of permissible cartridges in a clip or magazine.

This Resolution shall be distributed to current elected individuals:

The President of the United States
The Speaker of the House of Representatives
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader
The Governor of Pennsylvania
Congressman Ryan Costello
State Senator Andy Dinniman
State Representative Warren Kampf



Question: Why Can’t Washington Legislators Support Common Sense Gun Violence Bills? Answer: They are Politicians!

We learned this week that the Senate Democrats have dropped an effort to include a ban on assault weapons from their broader gun control plan expected to be introduced to Congress next month.  They conceded that a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines did not have the votes to pass.  However, VP Joe Biden is refusing to give up on the assault weapon ban; questioning the courage of members of Congress.  He stated, “…That weapon of war has no place on American streets, and taking it off American streets has no impact on one’s constitutional right to own a weapon.”

Seriously, what does it take to get these weapons off the streets?  In December, Adam Lanza committed mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School using a Bushmaster AR-15 “assault-type weapon”, a semiautomatic rifle that could rapidly fire multiple rounds.  Lanza was also equipped with magazine clips that held 30 bullets each.  If the innocent killing of 26 people isn’t the impetus for banning assault weapons in this country, what is? It is heartbreaking that some Washington legislators are more interested in the support of special interest groups than in doing what is right and passing a common sense gun violence bill. I would like to see these politicians forced to own their conscience in a roll-call vote; let us publicly see which side of the issue they stand.

Could our forefathers ever have envisioned Americans using assault weapons when designing the Second Amendment of the Constitution? How is that people can argue that banning assault weapons violates the 2nd amendment … this country had an assault weapon ban for 10 years and I do not recall it was ever legally challenged as unconstitutional.  The assault weapon ban simply expired.  If the argument is that assault weapons should not be banned because the Constitution does not specifically say that, why not take that argument further; the Constitution also doesn’t specify that the mentally ill or felons cannot own guns.

Unlike the United States, Australia was successful in passing legislation to ban assault weapons in 1996, in response to the massacre of 35 people.  Australia’s law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns.  It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons.

For those who would like to argue that banning assault weapons in the United States would not make a difference, I suggest that Australia’s statistics say otherwise.  According to an Australian National University study, the firearm homicide rate fell by 59% and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65% in the decade after the 1996 law was introduced.  These statistics indicate that Australia’s experience with an assault weapon ban provides strong evidence for the effectiveness of such legislation.  In addition, it should be noted that Australia’s sweeping gun control measures occurred twelve days after the April 28, 1996 massacre, the worse mass murder in Australia’s history.   In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, with our nation shocked and looking for answers, why can’t we learn from Australia’s example? Why reinvent the wheel, when Australia has successfully prevented gun massacres for over 15 years by banning assault type weapons and magazine clips over 10 rounds?

To be clear, I get it that stronger gun legislation, through banning of assault weapons and reducing clip sizes is not necessarily a favorable position, particularly among some in Pennsylvania. Taking the discussion to the state level, I was troubled to read a press release from the office of PA State Rep Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler).  He and fellow State Representative, Seth Grove (R-York) announced that they are actively pursuing out-of-state gun manufacturers and encouraging their relocation to Pennsylvania, claiming that our state has the “single largest per capita representation of National Rifle Association (NRA) members”.

According to Metcalfe, who is the prime sponsor of the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act (House Bill 357), “Pennsylvania is a natural fit for any of our nation’s major producers of guns, ammunition, or accessories that are currently looking for a new home due to the imposition of senseless, gun-grabbing legislation by their state or local governments.”

Passionate supporters of the Second Amendment and motivated by economic development, Metcalfe and Grove are rolling out the welcome mat to woo gun manufacturers including Beretta and Remington, to the Commonwealth.  With Metcalfe and Grove posing as the front men for the NRA, there should be no doubt, where these two stand on banning assault weapons.

Buoyed by his proposed legislation, House Bill 357, Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, Metcalfe is determined to override any gun restrictions that Washington may come up with – HB 357 would actually prohibit the enforcement of any new federal registration, restriction or prohibition requirement for privately owned guns and ammunition.  If passed, the bill further would require the state of Pennsylvania, including the Attorney General, to intercede on behalf of the citizens against any federal attempt to restrict, register or ban gun purchases, which are currently legal products.

I don’t claim to be any constitutional scholar but how is it possible that a state law, like HB 357 (should it pass) could legally stand up against a federal law?  Wouldn’t any federal law, like banning the sale of assault weapons, take precedent over Metcalfe’s proposed House Bill 357? Nevertheless, Metcalfe and Grove are using their pro-gun message to reach out to gun manufacturers in less gun-friendly states, in hopes of encouraging them to relocate to Pennsylvania.

Is this the new approach to economic development in Pennsylvania?


NRA Statement: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”

In advance of today’s statement, The National Rifle Association stated that the organization would offer “meaningful contributions to help make sure that this never happens again.” In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, I was hopeful that the NRA would nudge national laws toward making it hard to gain access to some semi-automatic weapons, such as the one used last week.  I was hopeful that the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary might trigger a change in the NRA’s policy toward gun control.

Unfortunately, the olive branch of compromise was not what the NRA had in mind.  The NRA broke their week-long silence with a statement read by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre that calls for guns at every school in America.  While the President is calling on Congress to act on gun control legislation, LaPierre believes that the only effective way to protect our schoolchildren is with “properly trained armed good guys”. 

Echoing the sentiments of some Community Matters commentators, LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” adding, “Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away?”  Others have argued on Community Matters, that rather than banning guns, the government should be arming teachers and administrators in schools so that they can defend students in the event of another school shooting.

LaPierre’s words scoffed at the notion that banning semi-automatic weapons or enacting gun control laws could stop school violence.  Instead, he cast blame for gun violence in schools on the violence of video games and movies.

The NRA statement did nothing to address the problem of the availability of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Although the weapons used by the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary were legal, one-third or more of gun sales remain unregulated in the secondary market, which includes not only the gun show loophole but also private sales between individuals.  NRA … why not address establishing a system of comprehensive background checks for gun purchasers?

The spirits of the twenty children killed last week will haunt us all this holiday season. It is unbelievable that the NRA’s response to the Sandy Hill tragedy is to arm more Americans. According to the NRA, the most effective way to protect against another horror like last week’s school shooting is … more guns.

The NRA’s failure to consider any meaningful gun regulations is offensive and is no way to honor the memories of the twenty-eight lives lost last week.


A couple of related  gun and school safety items:

Alan Thomas, Main Line Media News, spoke with Tredyffrin’s Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo on the procedure for turning in a gun to the police department, read ‘Turning in a gun, how it’s done” for details.  According to Giaimo, to date for 2012, there have been 6 guns turned in, none of which were assault weapons.

In response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, the T/E School District has scheduled a ‘Community Meeting on School Safety’ for Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7 PM at the Valley Forge Middle School auditorium.  The meeting will feature a panel of experienced safety experts including representatives from the Tredyffrin and Easttown police departments, District building architects and representatives from the District Safety Committee.


Will Latest School Gun Violence in Ohio Make a Difference for PA House Bill 1523?

Today in Ohio, there are families making funeral arrangements for three children who died at the hands of another high school student allegedly using a semi-automatic gun stolen from an uncle’s home. This senseless tragedy once again points to why this country needs stricter gun control laws.

Young lives lost and families forever changed. Where is the outrage over this latest school shooting and national demand for stricter gun legislation? How many of our children have to die because of handgun abuse and assault weapon ownership?  Yet, the pro-gun activists will continue to argue against any laws that may place regulation on their gun ownership; defending their firearm rights at all costs.

Will the tragic shooting at Chardon High School– which left three teenagers dead and two others hospitalized – encourage gun reform in America?  Doubtful. For a few days as the shooter’s motives are analyzed, his childhood reviewed and his family scrutinized, there will be national attention and a renewed debate overAmerica’s gun laws.

For those of us that want stricter gun controls in this country, we can hope that the national discussion will lead to change, but as we saw in the aftermath of the high-profile shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, that probably will not happen. Although gun-reform legislation was introduced in Washington in the wake of Giffords shooting, it was never considered.

Do we really believe that is what our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the second amendment of the US Constitution?  The amendment was designed to protect the right of the people to keep and to bear arms but could the writers have imagined the America of 2012? A country that protects the rights of Americans to own semi-automatic guns and assault weapons.

In a couple of weeks, our state house legislators will have the proposed PA House Bill 1523 on their agenda for discussion.  HB 1523 would penalize cities and towns across Pennsylvania for their commonsense reform that supports keeping illegal guns off the streets.  As amended, proposed HB 1523 legislation grants legal standing to the NRA, allowing the pro-gun organization to sue local municipalities with lost-or-stolen gun legislation, just like individual gun owners.

Illegal guns should to be off the streets of America– lost or stolen guns need to be reported. This week, a 17-year old shooter in Chardon, Ohio used a stolen semi-automatic gun to kill three high school students. Our children should be safe in their schools.  According to Kid Shootings, over 3,000 kids are killed annually by gunfire and 17,500 are injured . . .   every day eight children die from gunshot injuries in this country.  Where else in the world does this happen – only in America.

Will the latest school gun violence in Ohio, make a difference in the minds of Pennsylvania legislators as they review proposed House Bill 1523?


PA House Bill 1523 Moves a Step Closer to Penalizing Philadelphia for Gun Control Measures

PA House Bill 1523 Update:

Today the Judiciary Committee voted on PA House Bill 1523 which “Clarifies and establishes specific and monetary relief for a person adversely affected by unauthorized municipal regulation of firearms or ammunition.”  The Judiciary Committee voted in favor of HB1523, as amended, with a 19-4 vote. (2 Judiciary Committee members did not vote).  Click here for amended HB 1523.

The NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) encourages support for HB1523, stating, “This much-needed pro-gun bill would make critical changes to enhance Pennsylvania’s firearm preemption law.”

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and District of Columbia have statewide ordinances that require the reporting of lost and stolen guns to law enforcement, with several other states considering similar legislation.

With today’s vote, PA House Bill 1523 now moves from the Judiciary Committee to the state house floor for consideration — giving all legislators an opportunity to weigh in on the issue. The vote moves cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster that have taken local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers and straw purchases, one-step closer to financial penalties for enacting their own gun-control measures. HB1523 would allow any gun owner challenging the local ordinance to collect legal fees and damages from the city that passed such an ordinance.

Members of the Judiciary Committee who voted against HB1523 were Eugene DePasquale (D-York), Matthew Bradford (D-Montgomery County), John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) and Ron Waters (D-Philadelphia).  In addition to serving as Pennsylvania state legislators, DePasquale, Bradford and Sabatina are attorneys and Waters is chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.  It is interesting to note that 3 of the 4 Judiciary Committee members who opposed HB1523 are either from Philadelphia or the city’s suburbs.

Now that HB1523 will move to the state house floor for consideration, what are the thoughts of our State Representative Warren Kampf on this matter?  PA House Bill 1523 and lost and stolen gun reporting legislation is a significant issue in Pennsylvania.  Because Kampf’s legislative district is located in the Philadelphia suburbs, and one of the Pennsylvania cities that has a local lost and stolen gun reporting legislation currently on the books, it is important to know the views of our elected official.

According to the NRA-ILA website, HB1523 could move to the full House for second consideration as early as this Wednesday.

I have sent Rep. Kampf an email asking the following two questions and look forward to his response.

(1) What is your view of lost and stolen gun reporting legislation, and
(2) What is your opinion on PA House Bill 1523, and will you support it?


Against Illegal Guns in Pennsylvania

If you follow Community Matters, you know that I support stricter gun control legislation. At the risk of causing another heated exchange over the rights of gun owners, I have an issue with Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) House Bill 1523 that is on Monday’s agenda in Harrisburg. The state House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take a vote on Metcalfe’s proposed pro-gun legislation HB1523 that would hold municipalities financially accountable for enacting gun laws. (To read proposed HB1523, click here).

I understand the meaning of the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep and to bear arms. However, I think that most of us could agree that the 2nd amendment was not designed to protect the rights of people to keep and bear ‘illegal’ arms. Every year, thousands of criminals use guns that have been lost or stolen from legitimate owners.

A major research project is not necessary to know that most crimes in America are committed using illegal guns. However for the record, according to their website,, “… over 80% of guns recovered in crimes are obtained by perpetrators illegally.”

Assuming that you are a responsible gun owner and a supporter of the 2nd amendment; why would you not support keeping illegal guns off the street?  If you discovered that your firearm has been lost or stolen, why would you not support reporting it missing to the local police?  I cannot imagine under what conditions, a gun owner would not want to do this.

Reporting lost or stolen guns would help the local police with gun trafficking and crack down on straw purchases — people who buy guns and then sell them illegally to people who can’t buy them on their own.  Isn’t this commonsense reform? How’s it any different from someone stealing your car — you’d report that to the police, wouldn’t you?

In Pennsylvania, a gun owner does not have to report their firearm lost or stolen.  But some municipalities have ordinances that require gun owners to report the loss or theft of a gun to the local police, within a certain time from when they discover the gun is missing.  Each municipality determines the time. These 14 cities in Pennsylvania have passed lost and stolen firearm reporting ordinances:

  • Allentown
  • Clairton
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Homestead
  • Lancaster
  • Munhall
  • Oxford
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Pottsville
  • Reading
  • West Homestead
  • Wilkinsburg

These cities and towns across Pennsylvania have taken action to crack down on illegal gun trafficking, but on Monday, Harrisburg may overturn these local decisions. House Bill 1523 threatens to punish cities and towns for taking local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers.  Philadelphia and the other cities could face financial penalties for enacting their own gun-control measures that supersede state law.  The bill would allow any gun owner challenging the local ordinance to collect legal fees and damages from the city that passed such an ordinance.

If members of the house Judiciary Committee are serious about upholding the law of Pennsylvania, they should follow the example set by these 14 municipalities!   Rather than “cracking down” on communities that don’t follow the gun lobby’s agenda, the Judiciary Committee should recommend a statewide lost or stolen firearms reporting requirement that would help the local police with their efforts to crack down on illegal guns on the streets.


As an addendum to this post, look for an unprecedented commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday.  The mayors of Boston and New York may be cheering for opposing teams but they are on the same side when it comes to gun control.  New York City’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Thomas Menino have filmed a 30-second commercial for stricter gun control legislation, which will air during the big game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Bloomberg and Menino are founders of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition which lists over 600 mayors across the country as members.


Bambi May Soon Have Another Day to Worry About Hunters

It has been awhile since I visited the topic of gun control and 2nd amendment rights on Community Matters.  For those that followed the gun control discussion, you may recall my dismay last year over the federal legislation that lifted the ban on guns in national parks (including Valley Forge).   

The blog post, Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer?  generated much debate in the 50+ comments on guns in national parks, many from 2nd Amendment supporters. As a result, my naïveté on guns and gun controls was put to the test.  That discussion extended to a broader discussion of gun control in our community.  I learned that many living in this community not only supported their right as an American to bear arms, but that it was clear from comments, that many did! 

Although not swayed by the overwhelming pro-gun rights comments, I did find myself sitting in the minority; continuing to support stricter gun control rules. I wrote, ” . . . I know the argument that strict gun control does not reduce crime because it does not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not abide by waiting periods or registration requirements. The only people affected by these so-called ‘gun control’ measures are law-abiding citizens, who are rendered less able to resist crime.  However almost daily, our world is filled with news of gun violence in this country . . . in shopping malls, on college campuses, office buildings. . . “

In addition to discussing 2nd amendment rights and gun-control issues, Community Matters visited the subject of the overpopulation of deer in the area, specifically in Valley Forge National Historical Park.  With a two-year plan in place, skilled sharp shooters began last winter to reduce the deer population from 1,250 to 200 in the park.  Although I cringed at the idea of guns in Valley Forge Park and the shooting of deer, I took solace in knowing that 7,000 pounds of venison was donated to the needy.

At this point, I am sure you are wondering why this walk down memory lane?  Answer: deer hunting.  I do not claim to know much about deer hunting – I actually don’t know the dates of deer hunting season.  I do not know when it is ‘bow’ season any more than I know when it is gun season for deer hunting, nor do I know many deer per hunter is allowed – just don’t know any of the specifics.  I am not a hunter so why would I need to know this information.  As a “stricter gun control supporter”, and probably not likely to become a deer hunter, I do admit I was interested to learn of House Bill 1760 that would allow deer hunting on Sundays.  Deer hunting on Sundays . . . ?  I didn’t know that Sunday deer hunting was illegal in Pennsylvania.  Apparently, hunters in Pennsylvania can legally kill foxes, coyotes and crows on Sunday, just not deer. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states that do not permit Sunday deer hunting. 

According to a recent Daily Local article, “ . . . Sunday hunting is expected to generate $629 million in additional spending and create up to 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax. . . ”  In addition, Sunday hunting is expected to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license revenue.

So here’s my question. . .  if the current law allows deer hunting 6 days a week, why not allow hunting all 7 days of the week?  I may not be a gun-supporter nor a deer hunter (and I appreciated that I am in the minority) but I don’t understand ‘why’ deer hunters cannot hunt on Sundays?  I guess I can see the purpose of House Bill 1760 – if you support deer hunting 6 days a week, why not support deer hunting on Sundays.


Gun-Related Stories Too Close to Home

The Valley Forge National Historical Park has reached about half of its goal of deer reduction for this winter.  To date the sharp shooters have killed 225 deer as part of the operation to reduce the deer population.  Over the next two years, the park plans to reduce the deer population from about 1,250 to under 200. I know that we have a deer problem; I see the problem in my backyard each day.  I just cringe with the idea of guns in the park and the shooting of the deer.  Why can’t there be a better way – and no, I don’t think coyotes are the answer.  I rationalize that the ‘good news’ to this story is that 7,000 pounds of venison as been donated to the needy.

On the subject of guns, a couple of other recent gun-related stories caught my attention.  According to a police report, there was a recent road-rage incident on Valley Forge Road near Swedesford Road.  The incident occurred at 3 PM in the afternoon on a Saturday afternoon and involved two people.  Police say that Kevin Miller, 33 of Plymouth Meeting was arrested for making terroristic threats and Kathleen Penjuke, 40 of King of Prussia was issued a citation for disorderly conduct.  It is alleged that Miller waved a gun at an unidentified victim and that Penjuke gestured and yelled at the victim as they passed on the shoulder of the road.  The police report does not indicate any further information and the people involved apparently have not had their court date.  The scary part of the story is that we have someone in a car ‘waving a gun’ at another individual.

This other story is just sad.  This past Friday afternoon in Westtown a 14-yr. old boy shot and killed his 12-yr. old sister.  How could this happen?  Although the police investigation has not determined all the details, I will choose to believe it was a tragic accident.   The blame must go beyond the young boy that pulled the trigger.  Why was this firearm not secured?  Where were the responsible adults in the house?  Depending on the outcome of this case, the parents may lose not one but could possibly lose both of these children.

I accept that there are readers of Community Matters who completely support the right for individuals to own and carry guns.  However, hearing these gun-related stories reaffirms for me that we need stricter gun-control laws. I just cannot believe that our founding fathers could have imagined the world as it now is when designing the Constitution.

Community Matters © 2017 Frontier Theme