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Patrick Murphy Patrick Murphy for PA PO Box 2020 Philadelphia, PA 19103 Dear Congressman Murphy, We were concerned to hear your statement earlier this week about your views regarding the Second Amendment relating to reasonable reforms to reduce gun violence. When questioned about your record in Congress you explained: "Either you believe in the Second Amendment or you don't… You can't pick and choose what sections of the Constitution you believe in." While CeaseFirePA acknowledges that the Constitution does grant individuals the right to bear arms, we do not believe that the right is so black and white. Like all Constitutional rights, it comes with certain responsibilities and safeguards intended to protect the public good. We are not alone in that opinion. In the 2009 United States Supreme Court case McDonald v Chicago, the majority plainly stated that while there is a Constitutional right to bear arms, the right “by no means eliminates the ability to devise solutions to social problems that suit local needs and values.” The court went further to incorporate observations from their previous 2008 decision in District of Columbia v Heller, explicitly citing safeguards that have traditionally protected communities from gun violence, without infringing on the Second Amendment right to bear arms: “It is important to keep in mind that Heller, while striking down a law that prohibited the possession of handguns in the home, recognized that the right to keep and bear arms is not „a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.‟ We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as „prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,‟ „laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.‟” Unfortunately, extreme pro-gun lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association have refused to acknowledge the Supreme Court’s complete interpretation of the Second Amendment and continue to stand in the way commonsense federal, state, and local reforms designed to protect public safety such as: enforcing an effective background check system, confirming the authority of local law enforcement to issue or deny concealed carry permits to residents of their own jurisdictions, and establishing the legal responsibility to report lost or stolen firearms upon discovery of their absence. As a Member of Congress, you repeatedly rejected opportunities to support commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence. You chose not to co-sponsor legislation to close the Gun Show Loophole and to seal the Terror Gap. While we appreciate your support for the 2007 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, your subsequent votes in favor of special interest requests by the gun lobby – including votes to allow guns in national parks and to exempt firearms from individual estates for bankruptcy purposes – are a serious concern.
Most troubling of all, in 2007 you were a co-sponsor of the “National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act,” (HR 861) which would have forced Pennsylvania to accept concealed carry permits from every other state in the nation, regardless of whether or not their standards are similar to those of Pennsylvania. This issue is of particular concern to cities like Philadelphia that are struggling with the “Florida Loophole” which enables Pennsylvania residents who have been denied a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit to obtain a permit by mail from Florida, and then use it to carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania. In 2010, a Philadelphia man whose Pennsylvania permit had been revoked shot and killed a teenager using a firearm he was carrying along with a new permit issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture. Current law grants the Attorney General of Pennsylvania authority to cancel or renegotiate reciprocity agreements with other states that fail to meet minimum concealed carry standards similar to our own. If the “National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act,” which you co-sponsored, had become law – the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General would have been stripped of that authority, and Pennsylvania would have no option today, or in the future, other than to accept the concealed carry permits of states with weaker guidelines than our own. Cities and towns across Pennsylvania are struggling against the rising tide of gun violence fueled by the nearly unchecked flow of illegal guns into their communities. Meanwhile, our state government, motivated by the extreme political agenda of the gun lobby has turned its back on the problem. In this race for Attorney General, voters are looking for a leader who is willing to use the authority of the office to stand up for the safety of all Pennsylvanians and who will not back down under pressure from the gun lobby. In the coming weeks we will be eager to learn how you believe you would be able to use the powers of the office of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General to work within the guidelines established by the Supreme Court to stand with Pennsylvania communities fighting back against gun violence, and how you intend to resist the influence of the gun lobby which has consistently pushed an extreme agenda in Harrisburg, to the detriment of Pennsylvania public safety. Thank you for considering our concerns and for making this issue a priority in your race. We look forward to speaking with you and learning more about your specific policy positions. Respectfully,
Max Nacheman CeaseFirePA, Director
CeaseFirePA is Pennsylvania‟s leading gun violence prevention organization. Every year 1200 Pennsylvanians are shot and killed with a gun. CeaseFirePA is dedicated to reducing gun violence through education and advocacy in communities across Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit www.CeaseFirePA.org or call us at 215-923-3151.