ALLENTOWN, June 21—State Representative Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh) and State Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh) issued the following joint statement in response to news reports from police saying AR-15’s were used in the shooting outside the Déjà vu nightclub that wounded 10 people:
“It was almost predictable that one of the firearms used in the Deja Vu shooting was an AR-15,” Schweyer said. “I say predictable because just last year, there was a homicide – across the street from my home – where a woman was murdered by her partner with an AR-15. This weapon has become the go-to choice to for murderers across the nation.”
“We have repeatedly seen mass shootings where AR-15 semi-automatic rifles are used: Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and now Allentown,” Schlossberg said. “No community is safe from the effects of deadly assault weapons.”
Schweyer and Schlossberg are members of the PA SAFE Caucus, a group of legislators who believe in reducing all types of violence in Pennsylvania through adequate funding for mental health services, stronger tools for law enforcement, resources to curb the effects of addiction and illegal drugs and solutions that reduce gun violence and promote public safety.
“This completely unregulated tool of mass violence isn’t used by law-abiding gun owners for hunting,” Schweyer said. “In far too many cases this is an all-too-accessible weapon of war that has no place on the streets of our community”
“I think we can all agree there are many contributing factors to gun violence: inadequate mental health services, need for more law enforcement officers and the need to provide more resources to attack organized crime that engages in drug and sex trafficking,” added Schlossberg. “We are constantly fighting for more resources to improve mental health services and a few weeks ago, we announced a $500,000 state grant to the Lehigh Valley Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center. These efforts will never be effective if we continue to allow assault weapons to flood into our communities.”
Representative Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) has introduced House Bill 307, which both Schweyer and Schlossberg have cosponsored. This legislation would effectively ban the possession, purchase, transfer, use or manufacture of an assault weapon in Pennsylvania, making exception for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserve, National Guard or law enforcement while engaged or traveling for official duty. The legislation does allow people lawfully owning these weapons prior to the date of enforcement to continue doing so.
Schweyer has introduced House Bill 1162, which would prohibit the sale of assault weapons to individuals under the age of 21. This legislation also makes exceptions for members of the armed services. Schlossberg is a cosponsor of this legislation.
“One of those arrested in connection to the Déjà vu shooting was a 20-year-old,” noted Schweyer. “It is completely legal for him to purchase an AR-15 with no background check and no record of sale. He can legally own and operate this weapon before he can legally consume a beer. This is not only absurd, it’s deadly.”
Both House Bill 307 and House Bill 1162 have been referred to the House Judiciary committee. At this point, no actions have been taken to consider these bills.
“Good legislation to ban these types of weapons has been introduced in the House of Representatives, but the absolute power of the gun lobby in Harrisburg has buried this legislation so deeply and created a climate of fear of political retribution that we can’t even get a hearing to have anything considered,” said Schlossberg.
Information provided to TVL by:
House Democratic Communications Office