from the inbox:
A broad coalition of gun violence prevention advocates – including Mayors John Linder of Chester and Richard Lowe of Swarthmore, Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr., Representative Thaddeus Kirkland, and a local gun owner – gathered in Chester today as part of the “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence,” a 25-state national bus tour over a period of 100 days aimed at urging America’s leaders to support common-sense gun policies. The tour is sponsored by the bipartisan coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has more than 200 member mayors and 106,000 grassroots supporters in Pennsylvania.
Participants came together Monday to voice their continued support for comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and they urged Philadelphia-area U.S. House members Charles Dent and Jim Gerlach to back this tough-on-crime measure by co-sponsoring bipartisan background checks legislation in Congress. They also thanked Congressmen Bob Brady and Pat Meehan for signing onto this bill.
This past April, Senator Pat Toomey stood with nearly 90 percent of Pennsylvanians when he co-sponsored bipartisan background checks legislation with fellow NRA A-rated Senator Joe Manchin that would have helped keep firearms out of the wrong hands by extending background checks to cover private gun sales in commercial settings. Senator Casey, too, demonstrated leadership on this issue when he joined a majority of senators in voting in favor of the bill. It failed, however, after it was blocked by a minority of senators. Corresponding legislation in the U.S. House, sponsored by Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), currently has more than 180 co-sponsors, including Congressmen Brady and Meehan. But Southeast Pennsylvania Congressmen Gerlach and Dent have not yet signed onto the bill.
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Participants in Monday’s even included: Mayors John Linder of Chester and Richard Lowe of Swarthmore; Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr.; Representative Thaddeus Kirkland; local gun owner Antoinette Levitt; and Beverly Wright, President of Women of Strength.
During the rally, participants and attendees also read the names of victims of gun violence in Chester and those who have been killed with guns since the Newtown mass shooting in December 2012.
Along with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania goes beyond federal law by requiring background checks before private handgun sales. In turn, the state has seen the public safety benefits of enacting this common-sense measure. In states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:
· Thirty-eight percent fewer women are shot to death by an intimate partner than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.
· The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.
· Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.
In 2011, nearly one-in-five guns that were recovered at Pennsylvania crime scenes were originally purchased out-of-state despite the Commonwealth's better-than-average background check laws.  Although a national solution is the ideal way to stop the flow of illegal guns into Pennsylvania, a bipartisan bill currently before the state House Judiciary Committee (H.B. 1010) would fully close the private-sale loophole by requiring background checks for private sales of military style assault weapons and other long guns.
The No More Names tour provides an opportunity for the more than 90 percent of Americans who support background checks to drive home a message to our elected officials that our country needs common-sense gun laws. At each stop, participants are holding rallies with a broad coalition of supporters – including police, survivors, domestic violence prevention advocates, mayors, and other elected officials – to commemorate those we’ve lost and call on our leaders to stand with the American people on sensible gun policies. They both applaud senators who voted to support comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and urge those who opposed this measure to take a second look.