DN Editorial: EMPIRE ENVY

On gun issues, why can't Corbett be like N.Y.'s Cuomo?

Posted: January 29, 2013

SO MANY New Yorkers are migrating to Philadelphia that our town has affectionately become known as the city's sixth borough. And in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings, there have been moments in which we'd love to make it official so that Mario Cuomo could be our governor, instead of Tom Corbett.

Last week, Cuomo responded to the assassination of 20 children and six adults in Sandy Hook by making a passionate speech and signing into law the toughest gun measures in the country. The new law expands the kinds of guns that are banned as assault weapons; requires more stringent licensing and background checks, including for ammunition sellers and buyers; and imposes mandated reporting and treatment of people with serious mental illness.

Corbett's response to Sandy Hook? "We're not going to get into that discussion right now." That's what he said when asked about restricting the availability of guns in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. "We're going through the funeral process. I think we owe that to those children."

To be fair, Corbett has signed into law the Brad Fox law, in honor of the slain Plymouth Township police officer, which restores a five-year minimum sentence for straw purchasers on their second or subsequent offenses. Also, last week, after two years of delay, the State Police finally sent more than 600,000 mental-health records to a national database used to conduct background checks for potential gun buyers.

But other common-sense proposals, such as one-gun-a-month restrictions? Reporting lost and stolen guns? Mandating background checks for private sales, including gun shows? Restricting assault weapons and high-capacity magazines? Nothing.

Although Corbett is a former attorney general who might be expected to sympathize with efforts to reduce gun violence, he's also an NRA darling who adheres strictly to its propaganda - resisting gun restrictions, endorsing the enforcement of "existing laws" and diverting the issue by focusing on people with mental illness. Corbett even had the gall to tell a TV reporter who pressed him on the issue of gun limits that, "It's literally impossible to stop any offense from ever happening."

And while we're making comparisons, in New York City in 2011 there were 445 gun murders. That's fewer than Philadelphia's 470, despite New York having nearly 7 million more residents.

Corbett is Casper the Friendly Ghost to Cuomo's Zorro. All but invisible for two years, Corbett's recently come on strong in efforts to expand his constituents' accessibility to gambling and liquor by privatizing the state lottery and liquor stores. You can certainly debate the merits of Corbett's privatization bills, but his failure to take meaningful action on gun legislation in the aftermath of Sandy Hook is a disgrace.

Last week, hundreds rallied in Harrisburg to put pressure on the legislators and on Corbett to clamp down on the availability of guns. Given Corbett's NRA credentials and the Legislature's historic pro-gun propensities, it's likely that little will change.

So, there seems to be only one solution for Philadelphia: Officially become New York's sixth borough so that we can live under Cuomo instead of Corbett.

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