Seven months after a special Pennsylvania legislative session on crime in which more than a dozen gun-control bills were defeated, anti-crime advocates hoping a new climate in Harrisburg will mean movement on the issue, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. The drumbeat for tougher firearms laws is swelling from people in many quarters, including the governor. The effort comes at a time when Philadelphia murder total edging upward, reaching 105 last Friday. At least 15 bills are in the pipeline; Gov. Ed Rendell has turned up the volume on his pleas for stronger gun-control measures, and Democrats now control the state House. All this comes at a time when a new poll suggests a majority of Pennsylvanians are willing to accept handgun-sale limits.
The bills face an uphill battle in the General Assembly, which is dominated by lawmakers who support gun rights. There is reluctance to support gun bills for fear they will fail or bring lawmakers defeat in the next election. Rep. Dan Surra said: “They will vote you out on this.” Rep. Dwight Evans, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, sponsored a survey asking 600 people statewide for their views on various gun-control proposals. It showed that 70 percent support for a measure to limit purchases to one-handgun-a-month. “They realize the need for laws if you really want fundamental change to make it a safer state,” said Evans, who is running for Philadelphia mayor on the crowded May 15 Democratic ballot.