KILLADELPHIA: Fiddling While Rome Burns

HARRISBURG — Despite an impassioned personal plea by Gov. Rendell to do more, a state House panel this morning endorsed one bill aimed at curbing gun violence but rejected two others and tabled action on a fourth.In a 27-2 vote, Judiciary Committee members approved a bill sponsored by Speaker Dennis O’Brien (R., Phila.) to create a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 year for anyone who fires a weapon at a police officer.

Also by wide margins, the committee rejected bills that would limit the number of handguns a person can buy to one a month and allow cities to enact their own gun laws. Members tabled action on a bill that would require gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons.

The votes came moments after Rendell urged committee members to grow a “backbone” and send the entire package to the full House for a vote.

“Those who argue that violence is a Philadelphia problem caused by judges, police and prosecutors whobullet.gif do not enforce the laws on the books are dead wrong,” Rendell told the committee.

Rendell said he took the unusual step of personally appearing before a legislative panel because of a rising homicide rate in Philadelphia, where six police officers were shot in as many weeks, one fatally.

“It’s time for us to stand up and say enough,” the governor added, pounding his first on the table.


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