Constituents of Representatives Julie Harhart (R-Northampton), Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) and Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) are about to receive harsh mailers, courtesy of CeasefirePA.
This group is a statewide coalition of mayors, law enforcement, faith leaders, community organizations and Pennsylvanians advocating against gun violence by limiting illegal gun ownership and increasing background checks.
These three representatives were chosen because they have not signed on to cosponsor HB1010. The bill would remove the provision in Pennsylvania’s background check system that exempts the private sale of long guns, including rifles, shotguns and semi-automatic assault type rifles.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), and while most of its 62 cosponsors are Democrats it does enjoy support from several Republicans.
According to CeaseFirePA, the existing loophole has been exploited by domestic abusers and criminals who buy long guns in private sales without background checks and then use them — disproportionately — against women and law enforcement officers.
“This is commonsense,” said Goodman, “Every gun sale should be subject to a background check, regardless of the type of gun or the type of seller.”
The mailer depicts the victim of domestic abuse being towered over by her abuser, and the caption reads, “What if he had a gun?”
The domestic abuse angle may be tailored for Harhart as the issue has been one her areas of focus in the legislature. But she was shocked by CeaseFire’s targeting in her district.
“PA has the strictest gun laws of any other state and I’ve voted for every one of those,” she said. “So before you send junk bills like this, you should check the record,” she said
But Harhart said that she is still a 2nd Amendment advocate.
“I believe its the criminal that does the crime, not the gun,” Harhart said. “I support the 2nd amendment, but if you’re going to misuse the 2nd amendment to do anything illegally, that gun should be taken away from you.”
The other two targets are likely to face close elections next year. Courtesy of redistricting, Readshaw will have to face the more liberal Democrat, Erin Molchany to retain his seat. Forcing him to take a position on HB1010 will either move him to the left, or provide Molchany with more ammo for the 2014 Democratic primary.
“It obviously must be being used to promote my opponent,” Readshaw said. He reiterated his support of the 2nd Amendment. “On swear-in day, I swore to uphold the Constitution when you take an oath, you have to uphold it, you have to live by it or why take the oath?”
Readshaw said he has not supported background checks for long gun ownership historically because of their frequent use by hunters. He did say over the next few days he would be looking at statistics for long gun use in domestic violence and attacks on police officers, as the CeaseFirePA press release points out.
In the past two elections, Saccone will has faced David Levdansky who had held the seat until 2010 when Saccone unseated him. Levdansky is an outspoken advocate for gun control (he proudly noted his ‘F’ rating from the National Rifle Association) and fell just short of defeating Saccone in the 2012 rematch.
“Whenever they say its common sense legislation, it’s not common sense,” Saccone said. “They’re putting unnecessary regulation on law abiding citizens. Law abiding gun owners are not the problem. This is feel good legislation that does nothing. We need to enforce the laws we have.”
Saccone was also surprised to be the focus of this mailer.
“To put me on there smells of political motivation. I’m happy they’re doing it, I’m from a 2nd Amendment district.”