State Rep. O’Brien got it right.
Last week Rep. O’Brien was heavily chastised by the local media. This was because he voted against a gun bill that would require reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours, a bill that the Democrat-controlled general assembly didn’t even vote for.
One of the main reasons for voting against this bill was because it was poorly written legislation that would have been enforceable on many law-abiding citizens that committed no crime, not because it was viewed as wrong in principle. Yet the media came out attacking O’Brien as not caring about his constituents.
This type of knee-jerk reaction by the media is fueling one of the biggest problems we have with many of our elected officials and political class: creating do-nothing legislation that panders to voters and newspaper clippings.
As an example, the media are covering Mayor Nutter supporting Councilman Clarke’s legislation to create gun control in Philadelphia, legislation that is not illegal because of the Pennsylvania Constitution, but illegal because of the Uniform Firearms Act, created by state Sen. Fumo, which expressly states municipalities have no authority on gun control.
Instead of pointing out and attacking Clarke and Nutter for supporting a path that will do nothing except waste more tax dollars on legal bills when the state sues (and wins), they choose to throw them laurels and ignore the fact that nothing else is being done to solve the illegal gun trafficking in Philadelphia.
The police department and other agencies have stated that the laws on the books are sufficient; they just don’t have the necessary funds to actually go after the straw sellers — money we could give to the police instead of to lawyers.
And this is why O’Brien has it right. He stood up and voted against poorly worded legislation that would have accomplished little and failed to pass anyway. After reworking the bill, we now have passed, unanimously, a good set of legislation. We have increased the ability to prosecute straw sellers and buyers in a way that has no impact on law-abiding citizens.
We also have a bill that will allow Philadelphia to move some of its inmates to state prisons. This will alleviate some of the overcrowding, which will allow us to house violent criminals longer and not put them back on the streets to commit crimes of violence again, which are usually with illegal guns.
The media need to step up and start doing more due diligence in its reporting of legislation and go beyond reading the title of the bill.
Thankfully, we still have some elected officials that will do that.
Letter appeared in the Northeast Times on April 17, 2008.