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Stop Gun Lobby From Dictating Nation’s Policy

December 18, 2018

Now that the National Rifle Association has been exposed as having played footsie with an avowed Russian spy seeking to assert political influence, the gun lobby’s long and destructive streak of dictating the nation’s gun policy should end. Last week, Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in Washington to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Russia. She acknowledged that she infiltrated the NRA in an effort to use its influence over Republican lawmakers as a means to further Russian government interests involving the United States. It is difficult to imagine anything more discrediting of any lobbying organization. Federal legislators and state lawmakers nationwide should take the organization’s disgrace as a cue to regain control over gun policy in the public interest. Pennsylvania lawmakers can begin by supporting a proposal by state Rep. Dan Frankel, an Allegheny County Democrat, to allow local governments to establish local gun laws to protect public health. In that regard, state lawmakers shamefully have rolled over for the gun lobby. After Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and more than 20 other Pennsylvania towns passed laws requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to police, multiple state courts rejected appeals from pro-gun organizations on the obvious grounds that they had not been harmed and, therefore, lacked jurisdiction. The gun lobby’s toadies in the Legislature quickly not only passed a law granting jurisdiction to those groups, but requiring local governments to pay their legal bills. Frankel’s proposal comes six weeks after the deaths of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. State lawmakers who lack the courage to legislate against the ability to carry such outrages should at least get out of the way and let local governments do so.

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