Gun-control group tries to pressure Pa. congressmen with poll numbers
March 6, 2013By Emma Jacobs
Mandatory background checks for gun buyers seem to be the one thing the public can agree to support.
And supporters of mandatory background checks for gun buyers are citing overwhelming public support to push legislators to act.
The latest numbers come from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group that conducted polls in congressional districts across the country, including four moderate Republican districts in Southeast Pennsylvania.
In West Chester, the borough council unanimously passed a resolution in support of gun-control laws. Mayor Carolyn Comitta says, however, that's just eight people. A member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, she says these numbers should pack a bigger punch.
"When you have 96 percent in one district in support of something, in this case, background checks, that is very important information for an elected official to know," Comitta said Wednesday.
Her borough falls in U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach's district. Support for background checks for all gun buyers runs to 90 percent in the 15th District represented by Congressman Charles Dent. He says he's supported Pennsylvania's current rules, which he voted for.
"If you were to go to a gun show, say you go to Cabella's or pick your favorite gun shop, and you go buy a shotgun or any firearm, pistol shotgun, at 15, you go through a background check if you're buying through a licensed firearm dealer," Dent said.
That's also true for private handgun sales.
He'd support expanding the requirements beyond that to include private sales of some long guns. He emphasized that gun checks would only be useful if mental health reporting is successful.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan of Delaware County says he believes "we need to strengthen our instant background check system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including closing the gun show loophole."
Background checks are among a number of gun-control measures Congress could vote on this year. It's considered much more likely to pass than an assault weapons ban or a limit on large gun magazines.
The offices of U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick did not return calls seeking comment. Support for mandatory background checks in Fitzpatrick's Bucks County district also stood at 96 percent.