Inquirer Editorial: Gun limits fine when it's to protect legislators

An officer examines a weapon after Temple University police fired at an armed man who police say robbed a student and then pointed a gun at an officer during a foot pursuit Monday. Just before noon, a student reported being robbed at gunpoint on Diamond Street near Broad Street. Police said a Temple officer spotted the suspect and chased him to 15th and Dauphin Streets, where the suspect pointed his gun at the officer, prompting him to return fire. The suspect was not hit.
An officer examines a weapon after Temple University police fired at an armed man who police say robbed a student and then pointed a gun at an officer during a foot pursuit Monday. Just before noon, a student reported being robbed at gunpoint on Diamond Street near Broad Street. Police said a Temple officer spotted the suspect and chased him to 15th and Dauphin Streets, where the suspect pointed his gun at the officer, prompting him to return fire. The suspect was not hit. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 12, 2012

Pennsylvania lawmakers quietly disarmed the state House of Representatives' 16 guards after learning that one had a violent criminal history.

It seems the legislators are more than willing to restrict who can carry a gun when it comes to their personal safety. Too bad the general public isn't given the same consideration.

These are the same legislators who won't crack down on the "straw" purchasers who legally buy guns and then sell them to the criminals who terrorize communities. Lawmakers last year expanded the so-called "castle doctrine," which allows the use of deadly force outside the boundaries of a person's home if he "thinks" he is in danger.

In taking away the guards' guns, the legislature has hypocritically shielded itself from a perceived threat while showing little interest in protecting people who live on the violent streets of Philadelphia, Chester, Reading, and dozens of other communities.

The guard, fired in May, had pleaded guilty to simple assault, harassment, and DUI for incidents before and after he was hired in 2001. House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) wouldn't discuss the matter, leaving open serious questions about employee background checks, as well as why House guards ever needed sidearms.

Senate guards do not carry weapons. In fact, the Capitol Complex is protected by trained Capitol Police officers, making guards in both chambers superfluous, especially in a time of cost cuts.

If legislators can see the risk of having armed criminals in their midst, they should see the fear of guns that haunts many communities. Or has their love affair with the gun lobby made them blind?

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