The NRA is trying to intimidate local communities to repeal their gun control ordinances.
The National Rifle Association is coming to a neighborhood near you, and we all have an obligation to do what we can to stop it.
On Sunday, a quiet suburban park in Bala Cynwyd became the unlikely site of a pro-gun rally as organizations from outside the area assembled their gun-toting troops to try to pressure Lower Merion officials to rescind a local gun control ordinance.
The legal battles over weapons restrictions across the state have intensified as the NRA and its supporters have filed lawsuits against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster, which have more restrictive gun laws than the state itself. Now they are threatening similar lawsuits against smaller townships, including Lower Merion.
The stepped-up legal activity comes after former Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation last fall on the eve of the election that allows individuals and groups to sue Pennsylvania towns that pass their own gun ordinances. In addition, the legislation says that municipalities — i.e., the taxpayers — would have to pay the legal fees and costs for anyone who succeeds in getting a local government to repeal a firearms ordinance.
As a result, a spate of lawsuits has ensued and several township have backed down in fear of financial liability. In Lower Merion, town commissioners are courageously standing firm against NRA-backed bullying to repeal its ordinance. The township provision does not allow the carrying and firing of guns in public parks except by police officers and exempted parties — which includes anyone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon or anyone legally carrying an unconcealed weapon.
“This isn’t about gun ownership, it’s about children’s safety,” said Daniel Bernheim, a commissioner. “There is no social utility whatsoever for having guns in parks where our children are playing.”
The pro-gun activity in Lower Merion over the weekend was particularly appalling given that just days earlier, an eighth-grader at the Shipley School was found dead after committing suicide with his father’s gun.
Shira Goodman, the head of CeaseFirePA, said she thinks the NRA-backed tactics are part of a broader agenda to get rid of all gun restrictions.
We should heed her advice to call on our local and state officials to not give in to such bullying and to advocate for more restrictions — including background checks and mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns — not fewer.
Smart gun control legislation is not about violating anyone’s rights; it’s about saving lives.