Radio PA Roundtable – August 10-12, 2018

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, an update on the fight against the invasive Spotted Lanternfly; hearings on guns and school safety; and Penn State is gearing up for the 2018 football season.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:

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Death by Numbers – A Special Report from Radio PA

Death by Numbers
By Rachel McDevitt

If you’ve ever been confused by the clashing accounts of America’s gun violence problem, you’re not alone. One side says firearm deaths are far too high and gun control measures will help cut it down. The other side says violent crime is dropping and more gun laws will make us less safe. Who’s right? After weeks of research, the answer seems to depend on which numbers you use.
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Sen. Casey Talks Immigration, Guns & Jobs

As a busy week in Washington DC began winding down, Radio PA caught up with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) for a wide-ranging interview.  Fresh off of a briefing on an 844-page immigration bill, Casey said he believes an immigration overhaul is highly likely this year.  “I wouldn’t have said that six months ago,” Casey explained.  “If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have said that immigration reform is years away not months away.” 

Bob Casey Jr.

Bob Casey Jr.

A bipartisan group of four Democrats and four Republicans has crafted a plan that would both create a path to citizenship for some of the 11-million people in the country illegally, and significantly beef up security along the Mexican border. 

But just because a piece of legislation is a bipartisan compromise, that doesn’t guarantee passage.  Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) spearheaded the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for gun sales, which failed in the Senate this week. 

Senator Casey was among the 54-supporters, but the amendment needed 60-votes to advance.  “It was a bad day for the Senate and I think a bad day for the country,” Casey says, “but it doesn’t mean we’re going to give up and it doesn’t mean that the American people will in any way be satisfied with just one day’s worth of voting and then we move on for another decade.”

Casey’s views on gun legislation have shifted since December’s tragedy in Newtown Connecticut.  In addition to expanded background checks, he’d like to see federal bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

With so many issues before Congress these days, Casey stresses that he doesn’t want to lose sight of the jobs issue.  Along those lines, he’s pushing an extended tax break that he hopes will help the restaurant industry grow its payrolls.  The bipartisan bill would permanently extend the 15-year tax depreciation period for restaurants’ construction and renovation projects.  The tax break used to be spread out over 39-years.  “The only problem is that – if we don’t pass my bill – it will revert back to 39-years, which doesn’t provide the right kind of incentive you would want for a restaurant to grow and expand.”

The restaurant industry has a $17-billion dollar economic impact in Pennsylvania and employees 500,000 people statewide.

US Senate Rejects Background Checks Amendment

54-senators voted in favor of the bipartisan background check amendment; 46 opposed it.  That’s short of the 60-vote threshold required to advance the measure, which was the work of Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

You can read the entire statements released by Sen. Toomey and the NRA’s Chris W. Cox below: 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) issued the following statement after the Senate voted down the Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have made it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns while preserving the rights of law-abiding people to do so.

“I did what I thought was the right thing for our country. I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety. My only regret is that our amendment did not pass. It’s not the outcome I hoped for, but the Senate has spoken on the subject, and it’s time to move on. We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians.” 

Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate. This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution. As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.

The NRA will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats who are committed to protecting our children in schools, prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and fixing our broken mental health system. We are grateful for the hard work and leadership of those Senators who chose to pursue meaningful solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.

The Eastern Sports & Outdoors Show: Brought to You by….the NRA?

The National Rifle Association was selected from more than a dozen other bidders to run the next incarnation of the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show in Harrisburg starting in 2014. The three-year deal comes after organizers cancelled the event in February following a decision by the England-based former organizers to ban the display of military-style assault rifles.

The cancellation of the 2013 outdoors show had an $80 million impact on the local Harrisburg area economy and further rankled gun owners and dealers who had announced a boycott after the ban was implemented.

NRA President David Keene says the event will now be known as the “Great American Outdoor Show,” and it will appeal to a bigger nationwide audience. The show previously averaged about a quarter-million visitors each year.

The 2014 Great American Outdoor Show will run from February 1st through 9th, 2014 in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.


Sen. Toomey Brokers Deal to Close Gun Show Loophole

Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey is at the forefront of a bipartisan deal to expand background checks on gun sales.  The amendment Toomey crafted with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin would extend the instant background checks to gun shows and online gun sales.  Exemptions would remain for many individuals’ gun sales.    

While he’s already catching flak from some fellow Republicans and the NRA, Toomey says he is not swaying from his conservative views.  “I don’t think trying to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals is gun control,” Toomey told reporters on a late morning conference call.  “I think it’s common sense.” 

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

When the gun bill before the US Senate is formally considered, the Toomey/Manchin background check plan will be the first amendment taken up by the chamber.  However, it’s still unclear what will ultimately happen with the underlying bill or the amendment.    

Toomey says his expanded background checks plan protects 2nd Amendment Rights and explicitly bars the federal government from creating a gun registry.  He also maintains his opposition to an assault weapons ban. 

Just as details of the Toomey / Manchin plan were being unveiled in Washington DC, Wednesday, Democrats in Harrisburg unveiled their own plan for universal background checks in the Keystone State.

Guns, Seized Guns

Advocates ‘Demand Action’ to End Gun Violence

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has already advanced four pieces of gun legislation, but it remains to be seen what the chamber will vote upon when it reconvenes next month.  Regardless of what happens, Vice President Joe Biden says it’s just the beginning.  “The American people are way ahead of their political leaders and we – the president and I and the mayors – intend to stay current with the American people,” Biden said on a Wednesday conference call hosted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The call came in advance of what advocates are calling the “National Day to Demand Action” to end gun violence.  In the Keystone State, rallies are planned, Thursday, in Easton and Norristown.  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also has a Thursday news conference planned to address the issue. 

Vice President Biden laid out a number of priorities on the call, including universal background checks.  “No federal registry is kept, it’s not gun registration, it’s common sense,” Biden said, noting that such background checks only take minutes.  He says a loophole in the existing law allows 40% of guns to be purchased without a background check. 

Mayors Against Illegal Guns has already launched a TV ad campaign in Pennsylvania, urging Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to support expanded background checks. 

This is all in anticipation of a Senate debate next month, which is expected could include background checks either in the principle bill or as an amendment. 

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania gun rights supporters already have a date circled on their calendars next month.  April 23rd will mark Second Amendment Action Day at the state capitol.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 1.18.13

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman brings you Governor Tom Corbett’s remarks this week on transportation funding, guns, selling the state’s liquor stores and the new contract for Pennsylvania Lottery Management. U.S. Senator Bob Casey also weighs in on the gun proposals being debated in Washington and nationwide and we review the swearing in ceremonies for Pennsylvania’s row officers.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Senator Bob Casey Talks Gun Legislation

President Obama’s call for new laws dealing with military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips could be a difficult fight on Capitol hill, but Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says the time is right to have a conversation on gun control.

Casey says in light of the massacre in Connecticut, the discussion is important. He expects votes on at least the two proposals addressing assault rifles and ammo clips. Casey does not know if the proposals would receive separate votes or be part of the same legislative package, but he says the efforts to curb gun violence do not end with these two ideas.

Casey believes the measures would not infringe on the rights of sportsmen and women or pose a threat to one’s right to self-defense.

The President also enacted several measures via executive order Wednesday, including those that would assist in the background check process for firearms purchases. The National Rifle Association responded in a statement, saying “Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation.  Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”



Guns, Seized Guns

Mayors Seek to Block Gun Bills

A group of Pennsylvania mayors gathered on the state capitol steps, Tuesday, to denounce legislative efforts they say would undercut the progress they’ve made to protect public safety. 

At issue are bills which would give gun owners and the National Rifle Association (NRA) legal status to sue municipalities that have enacted local gun control ordinances, and allow the plaintiffs to collect legal fees from the municipalities.

“That is really doing nothing except slapping back cities that are trying to crack down on gun trafficking, and I don’t understand why they would possibly want to do that,” says Max Nacheman, director of the gun violence prevention group CeaseFire PA

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who sponsored HB 1523, says the goal is simply to put teeth behind existing state law that preempts local governments from passing their own gun control laws.  “I can’t believe the brazen arrogance of these elected officials that will violate state law, and then stand up and claim that the state legislature is doing something that’s going to harm taxpayers, when we’re trying to actually make sure the law’s enforced,”  Metcalfe tells Radio PA. 

In a February letter to legislative leaders, some 160 mayors said that asking a gun owner to notify their local police department when their gun is lost or stolen is hardly too much to ask.  Over 30-municipalities have passed such ordinances, and CeaseFire PA says six NRA lawsuits have been rejected because the courts have found they were not “adversely affected.”  The bills in question would change the legal rules however. 

Metcalfe is optimistic that his bill will come up for a House vote this session.