Online Debate On Gun Control Maintains Fever Pitch, Congressman Jim Gerlach Says Constitutional Rights Must Be Protected

Harrisburg Patriot-News

A hot-button issue became veritably explosive this week when President Barack Obama unveiled sweeping reform proposals to gun control and, under executive authority, enacted 23 additional restricting measures.

Reaction to the president’s measures came swiftly from across Congress, and have fueled a lively discussion on Penn-Live forums. A story featuring Sen. Bob Casey’s reaction to Obama’s proposal alone has generated debate about the definition of infringement, the rights to form a militia and on down to more partisan swipes at the second-term Democrat being irrelevant in the eyes of some readers.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, of the 6th Congressional District, late Wednesday entered the debate fold with his reaction:

“All of us share the common goal of working together to keep our schools and neighborhoods safe. The recommendations unveiled today range from tasking federal law enforcement with simply reviewing ways to do a better job enforcing existing laws to the rather dubious call for doctors to become detectives and question patients about whether they own guns,” he said.

“I look forward to an open and honest discussion with my House colleagues and constituents about how to protect the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens while preventing those who lack the mental competency to responsibly use firearms from obtaining and using them to kill innocent victims.”

Gerlach, a Republican, echoed the reaction from among his House party colleagues from Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, of the 11th Congressional District, for example, said a solution to gun violence must be found within the confines of the U.S. Constitution. Barletta said the rights of law-abiding citizens to purchase, own and use firearms were consistent with their obligation to protect their children and family.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said that while he was giving Obama’s proposal careful consideration, he thought there might be room for agreement with the White House.

Obama on Wednesday used his executive power to enact 23 measures that would strengthen background checks, among its impacts. The president also urged Congress to take up legislation that would, among its measures, reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazine clips.

Freshman Congressman Scott Perry, of the 4th Congressional District, said he would not support measures to limit gun rights.

“I have been and always will be a resolute supporter of the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” he said.

Obama has gotten some pushback from his party. “The Hill” on Thursday reported on a cadre of vulnerable Senate Democrats who have balked at Obama’s gun control measures, including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn), who represents a decidedly liberal state.

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