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Guest Opinion

Lisa Baker must allow full Pa. Senate to vote on HB 714


My granddaughter just started kindergarten at her local Philadelphia school and is full of exciting recounts of what she is learning. I was not prepared, though, for her to tell me that they practiced keeping “safe from a bad person who might come into the school and want to hurt them.”

She has been practicing drills to hide in “safe” places and be really quiet so that the bad person does not find them. My heart breaks to hear her innocent account of the safety precautions schools must take in the United States. Do other developed countries have the same drills?

I was teaching in a respected suburban high school when these active shooter drills began, and my granddaughter’s account illustrates that nothing has changed except for many more school shootings during that time (at least 21 in Pennsylvania alone since 2015).

Contrary to conventional wisdom, these attacks impact rural and suburban as well as urban communities, bringing with them death, trauma, and grief.

Our legislators’ response is to point fingers at neglectful parents and soft-on-crime DAs, arm school personnel (even though Uvalde and Parkland showed clearly that is not an effective deterrent), and tout the advantages of bulletproof backpacks.

What our legislators cannot do is pass any sensible gun safety legislation, in spite of the fact that several measures are supported by a majority of Pennsylvanians.

Universal Background checks (HB 714), supported by 89% of Pennsylvanians, would help to close the gap that allows the most common weapon used in mass shootings (the assault rifle) to be purchased from a private seller without a background check.

This bipartisan bill has passed the Pa. House and is now sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee headed by Sen. Lisa Baker.

We must demand that Lisa Baker, R-20, allow a full Senate vote on HB 714.

Keeping weapons of war out of the hands of disturbed individuals and convicted felons would do more to keep children like my granddaughter safe than active shooter drills and armed school personnel.

Peggy Walsh lives in Morrisville.

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