The Citizens’ Voice
By the Editorial Board
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Despite the mass shooting more than a year ago at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the ever-rising toll of gunfire deaths in Philadelphia, gun rights absolutists in the state Legislature continue to balk at simple measures that would increase public safety without diminishing legitimate gun ownership.
Philadelphia City Council decided Thursday to stop waiting for the state Legislature and to act independently in response to the daily gun violence emergency on its streets.
It passed a “red flag” law, which will enable Philadelphia Police to confiscate weapons from people deemed by a court to be a danger to themselves or others.
Florida’s legislature passed such a law within a month of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 students died and 17 other people were wounded. Nikolas Cruz, the suspected killer, is a former student at the school with a long history of disciplinary problems, including threats of violence.
The red flag law enables school officials, families, police and others to act on such threats.
Through August, after the Florida law was enacted, the state courts have authorized the removal of weapons from more than 2,600 people. That not only has enhanced the prospects for safer streets, but steered those who have been deemed threats towards the treatment that they need.
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have approved a red flag law pertaining only to verified domestic violence cases, which is a good start.
In the past, when municipal governments haves tried to enhance their residents’ safety with reasonable gun ordinances, gun- and gun-lobby donation advocates in the state Legislature have responded by exposing the local governments to litigation that could bankrupt them.
This time, in response to the Philadelphia ordinance, the Legislature should pass a comprehensive red flag law to get guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and to get many dangerous people into treatment.
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