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Weapons Carried Too Far

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You can walk down any public street in Pennsylvania with an AK-47, M-16 or similar assault rifle and not get arrested, as long as you have a carry permit -- everywhere except Philadelphia, which has its own legislated exception.

 

"We want the same thing Philadelphia has," says Pittsburgh Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. "It doesn't matter whether [a person] has a permit or not: You shouldn't be able to carry a rifle or a shotgun, not on your person or in your car."

 

McNeilly asked state Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Hill District) to try to expand Philly's prohibition to Pittsburgh; Wheatley has added a proposed amendment to House Bill 954, which would make it "a felony of the third degree to carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public streets or upon any public property" in the state's second-class cities, a distinction only Pittsburgh holds. (Scranton officials are asking to be included in the amendment too, Wheatley reports.)

 

Legislators have shown disinterest in the amendment so far, Wheatley says, saying it's unnecessary. The point is to get guns off the street, especially in urban areas, he says.

"I believe people should have the right to own guns, but there should be a balance between using it for self-defense and what shakes the public's confidence," says Wheatley. "We don't want people with guns visible on our streets."

 

Concludes McNeilly: "It won't get all the guns off the street but it will give us the ability to take action when there's a group of young men wearing gang colors acting suspiciously carrying around AK-47s."

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