Thursday, September 24, 2009

PA State Police Commissioner Supports MAIG

From the inbox:

Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski sent a strongly-worded letter of support to each of more than 100 mayors in the PA Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, supporting the mayors' work across the Commonwealth in helping police keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

“As Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, I want to thank you for stepping forth and speaking out concerning this important issue, and to pledge my support for your efforts as you advance an agenda for commonsense reforms to reduce access to illegal guns across Pennsylvania,” Commissioner Pawlowski wrote in his letter to every mayor in the PA coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Commissioner Pawlowski's letter specifically cited the mayors’ coalition for its work on the Tiahrt amendment - making available crucial crime gun trace data to local law enforcement agencies, as well as group’s vocal opposition to the Thune amendment which would have stripped Pennsylvania of its right to set guidelines for distributing concealed carry permits.

In addition, the Police Commissioner’s letter endorsed the coalition’s work in support of lost or stolen handgun reporting - a common sense measure to help police reduce trafficking in illegal guns.

“Lost or stolen handgun reporting is a simple reform that does not infringe on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms,” Commissioner Pawlowski wrote in his letter. “Nine municipalities have already enacted the law within their own borders. The local ordinances are a step in the right direction; however, to be most effective reforms such as Lost or Stolen must be applied statewide.”

PA mayors in the coalition, many of whom rely on the State Police in their own communities, were happy to receive support from the Commissioner. Coalition chairman and Reading Mayor Thomas McMahon said, “We are proud to be working closely with the State Police and other law enforcement agencies across PA. Police are the first line of defense against gun violence and we rely on their recommendations to create sound policy to reduce access to illegal guns. Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. In the last seven years, 18 Pennsylvania officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty - more than half with illegal guns. That is an unconscionable toll and we have to do something about it.”

Commissioner Pawlowski’s letter was received by scores of mayors across the Commonwealth, just as a nationwide misinformation campaign against the coalition was launched by the National Rifle Association. A postcard was mailed to NRA members claiming that Mayors Against Illegal Guns is in fact an “anti-gun” group in disguise, and emails have circulated purporting to expose the “real purpose of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” The cards were unsigned and cited no data.

“Mayors Against Illegal Guns has always supported the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and never has nor will we ever support a policy that would infringe on that fundamental right,” said Mayor McMahon. “We believe that upholding the Constitution and apprehending criminals who choose to flaunt the law by purchasing, selling, or using illegal guns are not mutually exclusive.”

Commissioner Pawlowski is the latest in a string of law enforcement officers to weigh in on the growing problem of gun violence in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and numerous local police chiefs and prosecutors have also voiced support for reasonable measures like lost or stolen handgun reporting to help police crack down on the trafficking of illegal handguns.

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