City Council bills could make us safer
January 3, 2019
It is very encouraging that the Pittsburgh City Council is considering bills that could make us safer from violence committed with guns. These bills would ban assault rifles and some types of ammunition in the city and allow the courts to take guns away from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. But as Kathleen J. Davis reported December 14 on WESA, even if the bills pass, they will not go into effect unless state law changes.
In 2019 we hope that the election of new Representatives and Senators to the General Assembly of Pennsylvania will contribute to improvements in the well-being of the citizens in this State. If we aim for progress we should examine the past of our State Government. For example, what has prevented bills with bipartisan support in committee from being presented to the entire House of Representatives for debate and vote? At the beginning of each two-year session of the House of Representatives, the rules for conducting its actions are accepted by that group. Those rules have allowed the objection of one senior member to prevent the progress of a bill in committee, despite bipartisan support for that bill.
There must be reform of these rules to ensure that bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee, and that bills reported favorably from committee are certain to be debated in the House of Representatives and to receive a vote on floor of the House. Only when this is the standard behavior in the House of Representatives of the State of Pennsylvania will the House function as it was designed. It should be the most representative part of the General Assembly, presenting the concerns of the citizens of Pennsylvania and introducing legislation on their behalf.
Without a change in the Rules of the House of Representatives in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, will there be changes in the state law that allow Pittsburgh to enact the gun control bills that its citizens want?
B.W. Brandom, MD
Resident of Pennsylvania since 1974