Our opinion: Find common ground on gun violence

If a person is intent on killing someone and doesn’t have a gun, he or she will find some other means for committing the crime.

That must be kept in mind as the Pennsylvania General Assembly, amid its 2022-23 budget-preparation work currently underway, considers how to allocate funds most effectively to try to reduce gun violence in the commonwealth.

It is important that whenever the available funds are directed, those dollars reach the programs with the best track record for “cooling off” potentially deadly circumstances before they reach the point of someone pulling a trigger or resorting to an alternative deadly option.

There are numerous programs with those goals and approaches in existence. Again, the key is to determine which already are achieving good results, and to provide incentives for others to ramp up their effectiveness, to merit additional funding in the future.

Gun violence is not going to go away, but a governmental effort aimed at confiscating law-abiding people’s guns is not a workable tactic for making inroads regarding the problem, which claimed more than 4,600 Pennsylvania residents’ lives over the past three years.

As most state residents know and, more importantly, acknowledge, people are the reason guns kill. Getting people to think before they resort to a “solution” with such finality will help bring down the gun-violence toll.

The key word is “think,” and that is the core idea governing probably the majority of potential state funds recipients during this budget-preparation cycle, which is supposed to end by June 30.

One of the proposals on state lawmakers’ desks is more generous funding for outreach activities on the streets.

Many years ago, that might have been overlooked, but it is something important to weigh at this time, along with the issues of mental health, support for victims and survivors of gun violence and finding more for young people to constructively do.

There is a big task ahead in regard to dealing with young people who might be in danger of getting into trouble due to the instability that broken homes often foster.

There still is about a month-long window for ideas to be refined before the June “budget push,” when the General Assembly must get serious about assembling the numbers and categories into a workable spending path for the following 12 months.

One idea that ought to be regarded as a slam dunk involves the state police, which have needed additional manpower for more years than most lawmakers might be willing to admit.

Gov. Tom Wolf has asked the legislature for a $141 million budget increase for the state police that would allow for two new cadet classes to add 300 troopers to the department’s ranks. Even if the state police are allocated somewhat less than what the governor is proposing in this, his final budget as the commonwealth’s chief executive, it should not be just enough to keep the department marking time for another year.

The task before lawmakers regarding gun violence money is formidable, but something that can be made easier by a spirit of bipartisanship on the part of lawmakers.

People of the commonwealth should demand that such a cooperative spirit prevail.


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