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Every year, my church’s Mother’s Day service is hijacked by Youth Sunday

Oh, I know I should be grateful. Shining youth testify movingly about God and Jesus in their lives, share sweet memories of Sunday School, accompany older congregants to their pews, pass the offering plate solemnly, and announce plans of their bright futures. Sometimes, even my own children participate in this process. But just once, I would prefer a Mother’s Day service delivered by adults – those people with agency and experience who recognize the tremendous physical, emotional, and intellectual labors that mothers make so that youth can engage in graduations, public speaking, and the like. Sure, mommy blogs abound where I can read the trials and triumphs of moms who struggled to cherish every moment, hated potty-training, or finally got their kid to do a chore, but it’s not the same as local people I’m connected to, validating the unpaid work we do. I’d like my neighbors and friends to search their souls and tell society how meaningful the role of mothers really is. Every year, I find some way to voice my discontent a little louder, but every year, my complaints seem to go unheard and yet…I am one of the lucky ones because all of those children currently exist. Since firearms are the leading cause of death for Pennsylvanians under 19, every Mother’s Day is truly tainted for too many mothers in our Commonwealth. 

Have you seen them? Have you read their stories at Gun Violence Stories? Many of those moms courageously came to Harrisburg on March 23rd, the March for Our Lives anniversary of the Parkland school shooting and cried to us, warning us of the pain that comes with such unfathomable loss. In between stories of grief and bloodshed, Moms Demand Action begged us, or our legislators, to do something. And then, something happened. That day, for the first time in 12 years, the Pennsylvania General Assembly held a Judiciary Committee Hearing on four bills that could stem this tide of insanity – namely, HB 731 (Safe Storage), HB 338 (Lost/Stolen), HB 1018 (Extreme Risk Protection Order), and HB 714 (Universal Background Checks), which you can review linked here: Four House Bills to End Gun Violence

community voices

Ask any gun owner in Adams County if they’re “responsible” and you’ll receive a resounding “yes”. Certainly, the State of Pennsylvania supports responsibility by issuing the “INFORMATION FOR PENNSYLVANIA FIREARM PURCHASERS & BASIC FIREARM SAFETY” brochure ( Firearm Purchasers Safety Brochure) to anyone who purchases firearms. In it, you’ll even find a special section titled, “Children and Firearms”, in which the first caveat is to never “…underestimate the ability of children to find or reach a firearm.” Safely storing firearms would reduce death of children by firearms, so HB 731 is a no-brainer. The second piece of advice to gun owners in this section is to “check stored firearms periodically” to ensure that security devices are still intact, but also to “allow you to inspect your firearms for dirt, corrosion, or other conditions requiring maintenance or repair.” By inspecting one’s guns regularly, a responsible gun owner is less likely to lose track of them.

Since that historic day, legislators have worked hard to amend the four bills so that they would pass a vote on the House floor. Outrageously, no matter what these legislators have conceded like reporting immigration status when discovered in HB 714, other legislators still won’t vote for them. These critics look at the HB 338 (Lost/Stolen) for example, and worry that a victim of theft could be made a criminal. According to the latest amendments, failure to report a lost or stolen gun results in “(1) A summary offense for the first offense, punishable by a fine of not more than $500. (2) A misdemeanor of the second degree for a second offense. (3) A misdemeanor of the first degree for a third or subsequent offense.” But a person who repeatedly loses track of their firearms is no longer a “responsible gun owner.” Responsible gun owners of Adams County therefore should support this accountability and call on our elected representatives, Dan Moul and Torren Ecker to vote for these four bills when Session returns in late May. 

For those children who were already slain this year by gun violence, these four bills have come too late. For those children who will be slain this week, not soon enough. 

Happy Mother’s Day.

Elect Beth Farnham as US Representative for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District on November 5, 2024 to preserve our Democracy, recreate a functioning Congress, defend Public Education, and enshrine into law our Reproductive Freedom, Gun Safety, Universal Healthcare, and Immigration Reform.

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