Some made impassioned pleas for change. Others argued for fortifying schools rather than regulating guns. Still others talked about domestic violence, mental health, urban gun deaths, and other issues. In what they called an unprecedented series of hearings, three dozen Pennsylvania House members took turns speaking over six days about gun safety and how to prevent mass shootings.
They offered dozens of bills and ideas — amid plenty of polite disagreement — in response to February's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and a level of gun violence increasingly seen as a national crisis.
The lawmakers were speaking to a state whose population and political bases are divided between large rural swaths where gun ownership is a tradition, and Philadelphia and other urban areas, which see pervasive gun violence. Pennsylvania receives middle grades from both gun-control and gun-advocacy groups. Though legislators in favor of some type of gun-safety measure outnumbered those testifying against making new regulations, Pennsylvania has not passed gun-safety legislation in several years, and bills introduced in recent sessions have died without votes. With a Republican-controlled legislature, major gun-control bills likely could not pass.
Closing the sessions Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin) said he would spend a few weeks talking to his fellow lawmakers and decide which bills will get voted on by the committee. Another, one-day hearing will be held in May, where advocacy groups will be invited to testify. Marsico said members of the public can submit written testimony to his office.
"Not everything we heard will come up for a vote, however, but we have heard a lot of good, interesting, and creative ideas," Marsico said at the conclusion of Wednesday's hearing.
Here are all the ideas, either current bills or just talking points, mentioned by state legislators during the six-day hearing*: