By Marc Jampole
On election day the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will most certainly sweep out of office Tom Corbett, their ultra-rightwing Republic Governor who drastically cut aid to public education, impeded implementation of the Affordable Care Act, kept taxes and regulations low on shale gas drillers, and tried to restrict voting rights. But before they “throw ‘de bum out,” he intends to inflict even more damage on his constituents.
Corbett is expected to sign a new law that would allow the National Rifle Association (NRA) to sue local municipalities in Pennsylvania that enact guns laws stricter than the state’s. Once Corbett signs this odious sop to the gun lobby, the NRA is going to sue the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia over laws on their books that require gun owners to report when a firearm is lost or stolen.
One study counts 230,000 guns stolen in the United States every year in burglaries and property crimes. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia surely account for a share of those thefts. By definition, all 230,000 of those guns end up in the hands of criminals. I haven’t seen any studies, but I think it’s safe to assume that a significant number of lost guns also end up in the hands of the bad guys.
Police can’t go after stolen and lost guns unless the owners report the losses. Not having the report on file slows down the process of gathering evidence when they succeed in encountering or arresting a criminal. And let’s not forget that sometimes people who don’t report a “lost” or “stolen” firearm have in fact sold the weapon, possibly to a criminal.
It’s mind-boggling that in many places in this supposedly civilized country people don’t have to tell the police when a gun goes missing.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on this truly outrageous and dangerous legislation focuses most of its attention on the great drain on city treasuries that defending the lawsuits will make. And it’s not just the big cities. Thirty other municipalities across the Keystone State have similar laws that the NRA could challenge or topple once Corbett signs the law.
What a win-win-win this law will therefore be to the broad spectrum of the right.
Taking city funds from fixing roads, clearing snow, educating the young, feeding the poor and ensuring public health and safety and giving it to attorneys certainly helps to give the rich a larger share of the income and wealth pies.
It must help gun manufacturers sell more guns, but I’m not sure I see how, unless they think they will benefit from an increase in crime rates, which may make more people buy guns for protection.
Finally, because of the widespread myth that most urban dwellers and recipients of government aid are minorities, the racists will be delighted to see city funds diverted from helping those whom they consider undeserving.
When Harry Golden wrote and Jay and the Americans sang, “Only in America,” I don’t this is what they meant!