PA state house committee discusses removing ‘gun free zones’

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania State House Government Committee takes up the issue of gun free zones at an informational hearing Monday.

People on both sides of the debate are asking if keeping some public spaces off limits for carrying a gun makes it safer or more dangerous for communities.

The hearing was a time to raise questions about gun laws and gun safety in Pennsylvania, but not everyone got the answers they were looking for at the hearing.

The question of whether guns in public spaces keep people safe or cause more potential for harm is at the center of a debate at the capitol.

Gun rights advocate Dr. John Lott testified “we got rid of the vast majority of gun free zones. Do we go the rest of the way to get rid of some of the remaining gun free zones. Maybe you might say there are some you want to keep, or not.”

Rep. Matthew Bradford (D- Montgomery County) said “a lot of us are concerned about introducing guns to colleges, into the capitol, into airplanes.”

The informational hearing raises the question, ‘are people safer from harm if more were armed in public?’

“Having somebody to be able to conceal carry permit actually makes it safer, for that person in uniform. The killers then know they’re revealing their location, and making possible that somebody else that’s behind them, or to the side, might be able to take them out,” Dr. Lott said.

Dr. Lott testified against ‘gun free zones’ in Pennsylvania, while some hoped to hear other alternatives to keep people safe in public.

“There’s almost 1.3 million concealed carry permit holders in Pennsylvania. The odds that there’s somebody in movie theaters next to you, or in grocery stores, or in restaurants, constantly all the time, it’s extremely high,”¬†,” Dr. Lott said.

CeaseFirePA executive director Shira Goodman said “he was presented here alone, given a platform to testify as an expert. There were very few questions permitted. I think that’s very dangerous. This is our state government committee that’s supposed to be doing an informational hearing, and i don’t think they’re getting good information.”

No matter which side of the debate legislators found themselves on, most could agree on protecting people’s Second Amendment rights. However, finding the best way to protect the public from harm remains an unanswered question.

“People who clearly are allowed to get guns can get them. They’re allowed to carry in this state openly except in Philadelphia, where you need a license to carry at all. We have a robust right here. We need to talk about ways to keep people safe,”¬†Goodman said.