PA Teachers: "Sen. Toomey, Save Our Kids"
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
"Sen. Toomey, save our kids." That was the message from a group of teachers, students, parents and community leaders outside the Pittsburgh office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on Tuesday.
In the wake of last week's Uvalde, Texas, massacre - the 27th school shooting so far this year - the American Federation of Teachers is demanding action on gun safety as part of a new campaign.
Arthur Steinberg, president of AFT Pennsylvania, contended that gun violence is a public-health crisis that is largely being ignored by lawmakers.
"What I see mostly," he said, "is resistance on the part of the far right to enact anything that will help make people safe and will avoid our kids being slaughtered when they go to school."
Toomey backed failed background-check legislation in 2013 and recently has indicated he still would support that measure. Opponents of gun restrictions have cited violation of Second Amendment liberties, and some Republicans are pushing for improved school security and mental-health services instead.
At Tuesday's vigil, David Hogg, a student survivor of the 2018 Parkland shooting who founded March for Our Lives, called for people from both sides of the aisle to work together to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of people with bad intentions.
"The shooter in Parkland was not a criminal mastermind; the shooter in Buffalo was not a criminal mastermind; the shooter in Texas was not a criminal mastermind," he said. "These were barely adults - they were 18- and 19-year-olds, who waited until they were old enough to buy an AR-15 legally and did so."
The AFT is urging federal lawmakers to enact basic reforms that include expanded background checks, red-flag laws and safe-storage provisions. Steinberg argued these are not "fringe" ideas.
"Eighty-eight percent of the people polled in the United States support requiring background checks for gun purchases; 57% support banning assault rifles," he said. "Most of the country agrees on these common-sense solutions to this scourge."
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