Symbolic steps do not save lives from illegal guns

The man accused of shooting six police officers during an all-night standoff in Philadelphia was legally prohibited from possessing firearms because of at least 14 crimes he previously had been found guilty of committing.

Let’s ask the police officers who were shot how that prohibition worked for them and if tougher gun laws would have stopped that night of horror.

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, who represents much of our region, observed that no enhanced background checks or any other gun laws would have stopped that man.

We happen to agree with Everett and also are not sure that new gun control measures are the answer.

The real question is how to keep guns out of the hands of those with no regard for the law and who are a threat to society without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Everett’s comment came even as other politicians were calling for new gun control measures and Gov. Tom Wolf was issuing an executive order making sweeping changes to executive branch agencies and programs to better target the public health crisis of gun violence in Pennsylvania.

The governor’s executive order should be viewed as an encouraging step, as a new approach clearly is needed to reverse this ugly trend. But will it get to the root cause of deadly gun violence and the use of guns obtained illegally?

Meanwhile, a hearing is planned for late September by Sen. Lisa Baker, a Luzerne County Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee. The hearing will be on behavioral health, Second Amendment gun rights and related issues.

“Taking symbolic steps sends a message, but it ultimately does not save lives,” Baker said. “Something unworkable or unenforceable or unable to withstand a legal challenge does not provide the real protection our constituents are demanding.”

We couldn’t agree more.