With the nation reeling from the school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a local lawmaker admitted he was having trouble sleeping on Tuesday night.
State Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, said he couldn’t imagine the amount of evil that exists in someone who would walk an 18-year-old into a school and start shooting children.
Solving the problem, however, is elusive.
“We had gun violence for a long time,” Gregory said in a phone interview. “We didn’t get here overnight, nor is it something we can fix overnight.”
Gregory said it’s frustrating because many lawmakers want to come up with a plan to end the violence.
“We need to focus less on winning elections and more on electing candidates because they are good leaders,” said Gregory.
In a speech to the Senate on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., expressed grief and outrage over another school shooting.
The deaths of 19 children and two adults occurred because a gunman entered a school wearing a bulletproof vest protecting him from any law enforcement response, he said.
This comes just under a week after a gunman entered a grocery store in Buffalo, NY
“And we’re supposed to get used to that,” Casey asked rhetorically. “I guess that seems to be the answer here in Washington.”
He said the Senate should be able to pass a background check bill supported by 90% of the American people.
“It’s a uniquely American problem,” Casey said during the speech.
Casey said politics seems to be getting in the way.
“What we should say to these families, in addition to offering our sympathy, is that your government has let you down,” he said. “In this case, in this chamber, it’s a failure because one side won’t even consider passing gun measures.”
In the wake of the shooting, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf called for immediate action by the General Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation to pass common sense legislation aimed at preventing gun violence.
“I am horrified by these tragedies and I am angry that our lawmakers continue to fail to address gun violence,” Wolf said in a statement.
He asked how many more children still had to die and how many more mass shootings the nation had to witness before “We are waking up to the reality that gun violence is a public health crisis that must be addressed.”
“Pennsylvania knows the pain of Texas. Too many states and communities are also experiencing this pain. We lost five children in the 2006 mass shooting at a school in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County. The 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh gave us the terrible distinction of being home to the nation’s deadliest anti-Semitic attack. And we regularly see gun violence in our communities,” he said.
Wolf said he was “tired of the lack of action” and urged Pennsylvanians to call on state and federal lawmakers to take meaningful action to end gun violence.
“People should feel safe when they go to school, the supermarket, their place of worship, the mall, the cinema and even outside in their community”, said Wolf.
Mirror Staff Writer Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.