“Rep. Costello, do your job!” was the first of several chants by the 25 people assembled under his office window on West Market St. on June 27.
Then, it was on to “Background checks now!” and “No guns for terrorists!”
And “What did Congress do after Sandy Hook?” Reply: “Nothing!” And the chants went on to a list of other mass shootings after which Congress likewise did nothing.
Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence leader Tom Buglio pointed out that 80-90% of Americans poll as wanting background checks and gun denials for individuals on the terrorist watch list—issues about which Rep. Ryan Costello (R PA-06) won’t meet with CCCPGV personally, though his office staff has.
According to Buglio, Costello is typical of today’s US House: he took $10,000 in NRA funding 2 years ago and avoids every chance to engage with gun violence prevention advocates. Buglio read from Costello’s statement after the Orlando shootings; Costello speaks repeatedly of “terrorism” and “hate” but does not stress that terrorists and haters should not have easy access to assault-style guns.
Activists have repeatedly asked Costello to cosponsor HR 1217, introduced by Peter King [R-NY-2] and cosponsored by almost 200, including 5 R’s and 2 D’s from PA, but Costello will not answer. (See HR 1217 info here.) Buglio challenged Costello: “Stop protecting the NRA and start protecting your constituents.”
The next speaker, John Gribbin, saw Orlando as an attack directed against the LGBT population, not as terrorism in general. A new “Gays against Guns” group has formed to “fight this long battle.” Gribbin held up a sign saying “Costello: SILENCE = DEATH.” In 2005-2015, Gribbin said, this country saw 71 terrorist murders and 301,000 other gun killings; Costello is wrong to keep saying that the main problem in this country’s spate of mass shootings is Islamic terrorism.
Buglio then led a chant of “We are the 90%” and praised a strong editorial by Costello’s November opponent Mike Parrish: “We need leadership on gun violence.” He also lauded West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, long-time active member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now running for PA House 156.
Marty Molloy, candidate for PA Senate district 9, then spoke passionately (photo to the left; Rep. Costello’s office window is to the left) about measures needed to protect citizens against mass gun violence, such as restricting magazine sizes and assault weapons. Politicians should not say they are sorry if they don’t mean it, he said. The NRA wins because it organizes and gives big money, and “guns are the #1 issue of the 10%” (those who do not favor any protective measures). But “we will win,” he said, and he asked support for candidates like himself and Susan Rzucidlo (for PA House 158), who was part of the group.
And the rally adjourned until another day.
So are the long chain of mass shootings including Orlando in fact a terrorism problem or a gun problem? For detailed discussion, see “Our gun problem IS a terrorism problem” at The Daily Sift, 6/20/16. The author, Doug Muder, shows that “the Orlando shooting makes the guns-or-terrorism argument obsolete” because “ISIS is actively encouraging lone-wolf attacks, and the easy availability of AR-15s and other military-style weapons makes the United States uniquely vulnerable to lone-wolf terrorism. Our political inability to control or track even the most destructive guns keeps that hole in our defenses open. I’m amazed it took Islamic State strategists so long to figure that out.”
The author concludes: “The question is whether we will adapt, overcome the NRA’s resistance, and force our representatives to face the new reality….. That isn’t just a gun-control agenda any more. It’s an anti-terrorism agenda.”