Gun Sense Chester County calls for common ground on gun control

Ann Colby-Cummings, Gun Sense Chester County chairperson, talks about gun violence at Tuesday’s meeting.
Ann Colby-Cummings, Gun Sense Chester County chairperson, talks about gun violence at Tuesday’s meeting. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
Audience members at Tuesday’s Gun Sense Chester County meeting noted recent gun violence in Las Vegas.
Audience members at Tuesday’s Gun Sense Chester County meeting noted recent gun violence in Las Vegas. BILL RETTEW JR. – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA

WESTTOWN >> In response to the recent Las Vegas shooting deaths of 59, and injuries to more than 500 concertgoers, Gun Sense Chester County met at West Minister Presbyterian Church on Tuesday to discuss reducing gun violence.

Gun Sense Chairperson Ann Colby-Cummings told about three dozen group members and the public that the organization is not anti-gun or in favor of a complete ban on guns, but is nonpartisan, volunteer-driven and designed to reduce gun violence.

Colby-Cummings talked specifically about the recent shooting from a Las Vegas hotel room onto the large crowd below at a country music festival.

“Life kind of took a turn for all of us,” she said. “Some of us have stepped away from the news a little bit.


“This is always out there — somewhere else — but current events have shown us that this is not the case. These things are all around us.”

Colby-Cummings noted that two Chester County residents were killed by guns during the past week and five have died since June.

The group supports lobbying lawmakers and establishing a dialogue concerning “common ground of core uses and policies” between both gun and non-gun owners, Colby-Cummings said.

“We welcome gun owners,” she said. “We’re not a group inherently against guns.

“We recognize there are many responsible gun owners. Many hunting households care for weapons responsibly. We honor that.”

On a federal level, Gun Sense is opposed to proposed bill HR3668, which would deregulate sales of gun silencers. The group is also opposed to bill HR38 which would allow concealed carry permit holders to cross state lines with a concealed firearm.

On a state level, the organization supports universal background checks for long guns. Private sales are now allowed in Pennsylvania for some long guns, or rifles, with no background check.

Statistics provided by the group show that most people agree.

Eighty-three percent of gun owners nationally support mandatory background checks on all sales, while 14 percent oppose them, reads the group’s literature disseminated at the meeting. Ninety percent of Democrats and 81 percent of Republicans support background checks, with 72 percent of National Rifle Association members favoring universal background checks.

For the bulk of the meeting, participants split into groups of six, which included a board member, to discuss gun issues.

Board member Barbara Stevens told a group that it is important to lobby public officials and tell them how one feels, even if the representative already agrees.

“It’s important to call them, they do keep records but might not actually act on them,” she said. “It does make a difference for them to hear from their constituents.”

Group member Erin Buchner finished a sentence started by Stevens.

“It takes a village,” Stevens said… “or a committee,” said Buchner.

Group member Kristie Brodowski said that one of her “pet peeves” concerns people who express their opinions on Facebook or social media, but then don’t do anything else.

“How will they know what to do?” Brodowski said.

Stevens suggested a game plan.

“Listen to what they say,” Stevens said. “If we don’t listen to them we can’t expect them to listen to us.

“Listening to opposing opinions helps make sense about why people do want guns. They are passionate about it and you have to be passionate to be heard.”

Buchner said that it is important to talk regularly with elected officials and their staffers. She talked about gun safeties which can prevent a gun from being accidentally discharged.

“The important thing is starting conversations,” she said. “The answer is not my answer or your answer but the answer is somewhere in between.

“The best safety is education.”

Stevens said the group’s goal is to help determine which type of guns and ammunition should be allowed.

“We have to figure out how to make it less harmful,” she said.

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