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Assault Weapons Ban? Here’s Where Lehigh Valley Lawmakers Stand

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has change of heart, backs ban, as does Representative-Elect Cartwright.

On the hot-button issue of banning semi-automatic assault weapons, one area congressman-elect has come out swinging and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania has had a change of heart.

Casey, who just won a second term, told the Philadelphia Inquirer recently that he was haunted by images from the massacre at Newtown where Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother before murdering 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Previously, he had opposed an assault weapons ban, but since Newtown he had decided he would support one as well as a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

“The power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me,” Casey said.

A Patch story asking Lehigh Valley readers for their opinion on an assault weapons ban drew close to 300 comments.

U.S. Representative-Elect Matt Cartwright, who will be sworn in for his first term representing the 17th District on Jan. 3, talked about his support for a ban in an op-ed piece in The Morning Call on Dec. 27.

“This kind of firepower is not necessary for hunting or self-defense,” wrote Cartwright, who fills the seat held by Rep. Tim Holden. “Our American experience has showed us example after example of assault rifles and high-capacity clips being used in mass killings of innocent people.”

Cartwright and Casey won’t have to wait long to co-sponsor legislation on a ban. Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced that she will introduce such a bill on the first day of the new session and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York plan to introduce a companion bill in the House.

Without saying categorically how they would vote on such a measure, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15, and Sen. Pat Toomey have steered clear of endorsing a ban.

Dent issued a statement saying he wants Congress to “examine all of the possible solutions” including such aspects as increased school security and training school personnel, reviewing measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, getting help for those who exhibit "severe emotional problems or violent tendencies" and looking at the role violent entertainment might play in such incidents. 

Dent Spokesman Shawn Millan said the congressman isn’t endorsing the NRA position of putting a police officer or armed guard in every school. But Dent wants to look at ways to enhance security in schools so they would be more protected from attacks.

Toomey’s office, which failed to respond to a request for comment, told the Morning Call that “among other things, we need to have a discussion about the best way to better identify and protect ourselves from dangerous and mentally deranged individuals who seek to carry out such atrocities.”

Several local mayors have weighed in on the issue by signing a letter from more than 750 mayors to President Barack Obama supporting laws to “get high capacity rifles and ammunition magazines off our streets” and “require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check.”

Among the signers were Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr., West Easton Mayor Gerald W. Gross, Wilson Mayor David Perruso and Emmaus Mayor Winfield Iobst.

The letter also says measures should be taken to beef up enforcement of gun laws already on the books, such as prosecuting people who are prohibiting from buying firearms who attempt to do so.

“In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred more than 71,000 such cases to ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], but U.S. Attorneys ultimately prosecuted only 77 of them,” the letter said.   

Joe Sommers January 04, 2013 at 09:33 PM
I believe in the Castle Doctrine. Threaten me in my home and I blow your head clean off with my semi automatic Glock. . Then call the police to drag your sorry dead ass to the morgue. How do you liberals feel about the Castle Doctrine?
Carl W January 05, 2013 at 06:34 AM
"Without saying categorically how they would vote on such a measure, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15, and Sen. Pat Toomey have steered clear of endorsing a ban." Remember, these two would lose serious $$$'s @ election time, if they voted for the ban, and we sure don't want that, do we? Better to have children massacred!?!
Carl W January 05, 2013 at 06:39 AM
Don't kid yourself. If you can't prove your life in danger, & didn't have time to call police, you're up for murder-1. That's how "us Liberals" feel about you. You would not be covered by the "Castle Doctrine." (Thank God)!!
Carl W January 05, 2013 at 06:43 AM
"............ I blow your head clean off with my semi automatic Glock. . - 'Then' - call the police........" Says a lot about you, Joe. Any schools nearby???
Armed Citizen January 05, 2013 at 12:52 PM
"Remember, these two would lose serious $$$'s @ election time, if they voted for the ban, and we sure don't want that, do we? Better to have children massacred!?!" You sir are an emotional wreck. Pull your panties out of your @ss crack and start behaving like a big boy. The assault weapon is a red herring in this story. Having sheeple like you in this society makes it all that much more important that rational people like me are armed and have the means to protect ourselves and helpless fools like you.
Tony F January 05, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Carl W. It must suck walking around in life, totally clueless about the issues at hand. Why would you want to disarm law abiding citizens? Do you think, under and law, the criminals are going to abide by it? You foolish, foolish man. A criminal breaks into your home, how will you defend yourself? Would you let them rape your daughter? Kill your wife? Take your life? At least with a weapon, i can at least try to defend myself, What can you do, sit there and watch and wait until the police show up, providing you were able to get to a phone in time. I care about my family to WANT to protect them, not sit idly by and let strangers make life decisions for me.
John January 05, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I think the analogy presented regarding cars that go over 65 mph, and anything with alcohol over a certain percentage point hits home. Take out the politics and media hype, and place some reality into the conversation. Use facts, rather than emotion. The extremely vast majority of gun owners DO NOT shoot anyone...never have and most likely never will. Those same people who want to ban assault rifles will buy their 16 year old a Mustang GT 500 for their birthday. Or legalize pot, or drink with their kids and their friends. Let's avoid the hypocrisy! A tragedy occurred in Connecticut, while on the same day tens of thousands of assault weapon owners injured nobody. Actually, the only people benefitting from this rhetoric are the gunshops and Cabellas. Prices and sales are going through the roof. This rhetoric will occur until yet another nut job shoots yet another "Tiller the baby killer", then we can shift the focus to yet another political rhetorical blah blah, and decrease the cost of my ammo!
Joe Sommers January 05, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Carl W... If the intruder has a gun or ANY weapon thats all that is needed to prove a threat. You act as if the intruder as all the RIGHTS here !!! YOUR ANSWER INDICATES YOUR BLIND LIBERALISM ! Your statement on Dent and Toomey not voting for a ban is right on the money.With one big difference ...They are smart enough to know that a majority of thier gun toting constituents are responsible gun owners and that children wont be getting massascred as a result of upholding the 2nd amendment. They are smarter better solutions. What needs to be banned are liberals who think they know it all and will tear down our constitution at every turn.
Andrew Wilt January 05, 2013 at 02:38 PM
http://www.market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=215658
Joe Sommers January 05, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Carl W.....What my comments say about me is that I would protect my family from an invading intruder. You go onto to say where are the schools. Your thoughts /words indicate your idiotic Liberalism.And before you make comments about the Castle Doctrine understand the law you ignoramus. Toomey and Dent won't vote for the ban because they are sensible men who understand that there are better solutions than tearing down the 2nd amendment. Many of their consituents are law abiding gun toting citizens whom they know will be violated by changing the law if they listen to liberal freaks like you who won't vote for them anyway.
Rich Cranium January 05, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I think more importantly they know that gun owners will remember how they voted on this issue, while the non-gun owners will forget all about this in a few months.
Rosemary B January 05, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Government wants to put black boxes in cars like they do planes so I am sure that is coming as well. All for our own good, of course.
Rosemary B January 05, 2013 at 03:35 PM
So I guess we just give up now and let the government do whatever they want. Like nice little sheeple. Sorry, not me.
Rosemary B January 05, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Yes it does say a lot about him. Says he is willing to take responsibility for saving his own life and does not need the government to do it all for him.
Rosemary B January 05, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Toomey and Dent are also smart enough to let the high emotions die down before they throw any gas on the fire. Signs of good leaders.
Robert Atkinson January 13, 2013 at 12:35 AM
There isn't a historical trend of governments banning and confiscating vehicles, before killing, enslaving, or putting them in concentration camps. Can't happen in the U.S.? What about the Japanese-American people put into internment camps during WWII? What if the Jews, homosexuals, and Gypsies had the tools to fight back against the Nazis?
Robert Atkinson January 13, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Connecticut had an "assault weapon" ban when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. The school is supposed to be a "gun-free" zone. The Columbine shooting and North Hollywood bank shoot-out happened during the 1994 Clinton assault weapon ban. Columbine was supposed to be a "gun-free" zone. California very very very rarely issues carry permits to average citizens.
Robert Atkinson January 13, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Both are essentially the same. 5.56x45mm will send the bullet out a a SLIGHTLY higher velocity, but the two are mostly identical in terms of wounding capability.
Robert Atkinson January 13, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Herring: There's nothing in the 2nd Amendment about hunting, "sporting purposes," "reasonable restrictions," and certainly nothing about "conforming to global norms." Does the 1st Amendment not apply to faxed documents, telephone conversations, or the internet?
melissa d January 20, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Five people shot at three different gun shows across the nation today on "National Gun Appreciation Day." ... wow. There are no words... http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/01/19/1473881/two-people-accidentally-shot-at-a-gun-show-safety-checkpoint-on-gun-appreciation-day/?mobile=wp
John Donches March 04, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Just to let everyone know that there will be a presentation at Fire Company #1 in Emmaus on “Gun Rights” Tuesday, March 19th @ 7:30 PM. Click on the highlight to go to the Flyer and info sheet on this event. We at C.E.P.T.A. invite everyone to attend and come prepared to ask your questions. http://ceptapa.wordpress.com
JD March 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM
I have been a hunter for over 40 years. I don't go hunting with or allow people on my property that I deem are a danger to themselves or others. There are some people that should not be able to own guns ( the crazies). We should have an assault weapons ban. The only reason the NRA exists is to protect the rights of crazy people that want to own guns. I have never been and will never be a member of the NRA- reasonable sportsmen don't need them. Should we allow blind people to drive a car or go hunting and if not don't they have the same rights as people that can see?
John Fox March 21, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Maybe you have never heard of Boar Hunting? AR-15 and AR-10 rifles are the most popular firearms used to boar hunt, especially in Texas and other Southern States where the boar population is exploding.
Nazaretti March 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Real men hunt boar with a Bowie knife.
Jill March 21, 2013 at 06:18 PM
John Fox, Once again the educated school the ignorant. These gun control people have no clue what the facts are...it's all emotion and what they hear through a biased media. It's the feel good approach! No substance...all emotion! Example...their happy leader Joe Biden the idiot!
JD March 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM
They don't need an AR-15 to take down a boar just like you don't need one to take down an elk or a bear. They obviously have people in Texas that cannot shoot worth a damn!
John Fox March 22, 2013 at 07:01 PM
JD arguing with you is like playing chess with a pigeon. no matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon (you) will only knock over the pieces shit all over the game board and strut around looking victorious. So this is my final response to you: You inferred that only crazy people own AR-15 rifles and I presented you with a legitimate use for an AR-15 (you know because target shooting, exercising my rights, and being able to defend my family are apparently crazy reasons to own one) and you just dismiss it because it doesn't fit with your thought process. Me and the other 2 million or so AR owners in the country will continue to enjoy our modern sporting rifles. At one point nearly every firearm design was a "military style" rifle, Leaver action rifles were once the "high capacity assault rifle" During the civil war a few union solders were equipped with leaver action repeating rifles and the confederates called it "the Yankee rifle that they could load on Sunday and shoot all week." If the "cannot shoot worth a damn" argument was valid argument to not use and AR rifle for hunting (which it isn't) than I hope that you only use a single shot rifle to hunt, because if you need more than one shot, obviously you cannot shoot worth a damn. And who needs those self contained cartridges too!! You don't need anything more than a muzzle-loader.
Rich Cranium March 22, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I think JD might need this: http://static.seton.com/media/catalog/product/burn-Cream-tube-ba.jpg
JD March 25, 2013 at 12:51 PM
We should allow blind people and people with down's syndrome to hunt and drive.
Rich Cranium March 25, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Wow John was right, pigeon playing chess.

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