This afternoon, CeaseFirePA and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PINN) made an appearance at the gates of the 2011 NRA National Meetings. ~100 Pennsylvania citizens turned out to voice their displeasure with the NRA, Mr. LaPierre and firearms in general . . .
Jana Finder “Fin-der,” Western Pennsylvania Coordinator for CeaseFirePA spoke with me briefly (The police were already dispersing the crowd, as it was spilling into the streets and backing up traffic.) Today’s event centered around CeaseFire’s efforts to “fix / improve the NICS background system, enforce legislation already on the books, and bring the NRA to the table to talk gun control.” What do they see as their biggest obstacle to these goals? – Surprisingly enough, not the NRA (or as one protestor put it – “No Regard for Anything – Except Selling Guns.”) Instead, Ceasefire takes their beef up with PA’s governor. What do they want? – “Dialogue.”
I asked about the ever present Gunwalker Scandal, and how the revelation of the ATF allegedly contributing to, creating, or otherwise being completely behind the problem affected her view of how effective they and other government agencies could be in advancing the cause of CFPA. While not up to speed on the Gunwalker issues (as I’ve found very few on the “other side” to be), she did articulate that in her opinion a lack of leadership is ATF’s largest obstacle doing near anything worthwhile.
I did not have the opportunity to speak with the Interfaith Impact Network folks, but the signs they held represented the “101 victims” of gun violence discussed on the opposite side of their large, rolling (err.. parked) truck-billboard “open-letter. PINN rolled out in force, lead by the Reverend Glens Grayson and his son Glens Grayson Jr. – Glen’s Sr.’s son Jeron was killed in 2010, and the Reverend has become an outspoken supporter of PINN in the time following.
The party lines we toed, literally; Protestors on one of the street, a growing crowd of NRA spectators on the other. Pittsburgh police and event security stood by ensuring everyone kept things relatively civil. A spectating officer of Pittsburgh’s finest related a few interesting details that had popped into his head as a result of the chanting and signage standing firm across the street. Last year, he estimated that Pittsburgh logged anywhere from 350 – 450 arrests involving firearms. Of those that involved an actual shooting event, the majority were self inflicted wounds (not suicides, but ND’s). The kicker – less than 10% of the guns involved were purchased legally, almost all were stolen.. NICS wouldn’t have helped in the least.. So, is fixing NICS really the solution to the problem they (CFPA + PINN) see?
[Video courtesy of “18Riccco” J.L. Martello of the New Pittsburgh Courier.]