By State Rep. Regina Young
As a mother of children who attend public schools and travel by three modes of transportation, as a wife of a black man who also travels throughout the city for work and as a woman of color who is often the only person in the room who looks like me – something that I notice all the time when traveling throughout the commonwealth – I want to say that I understand the concerns that plague our streets in and around Philadelphia.
I know the mental and emotional toll of not being able to exhale until everyone, myself included, is home safe. That’s when I breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks for another day of making it home safely.
This is one of the reasons why my role as a legislator is so important.
I can speak from the disenfranchised community perspective because I was born and raised in it – a community that is often frustrated by the politics of how systems work. My team in my district office is often afraid for their children and families – like me, they see firsthand the inaction of the House Republicans.
With that being said, it is disheartening to see how some of my colleagues are attempting to gray the area when it comes to portraying their “concerns” regarding Philadelphia. Despite controlling the legislature for nearly 30 years, Republicans have done next to nothing of substance to help curtail gun violence in Pennsylvania.
I have witnessed firsthand how proposed legislation cannot even be heard by the full House. This is legislation that could save lives, but because of political gaslighting and partisan actions, it’s impossible to get this legislation out of committee.
The needs of my neighbors are just as important as any other district, county or region, but Democratic-offered legislation is ignored time after time, simply because of politics. Once I had to leave the House chamber because my kids called me with the news that their school was on lockdown, which is terrifying while I’m two hours away.
Meanwhile, the House is ignoring our pleas for a solution to the gun violence – in direct opposition to what is happening in my communities.
Meanwhile, the House is voting to launch a partisan witchhunt into our twice-elected DA, in direct opposition to what Philadelphia voters are asking for.
When one child died from a lawn dart accident, lawn darts were banned. Today, guns are the leading cause of death for children. So why can’t we work on creating safer communities in a bipartisan way?
Since all the attention is on Philadelphia now, why can’t we work on making it safer – instead of partisan witchhunts of duly elected officials?
Gun violence is not a “Big city/Philadelphia” problem. In 2022 alone, there have been dozens of shootings and murders in rural counties as well. Where is the outrage? This is an EVERYONE and EVERYWHERE problem.
Since House Democrats try to force action on gun violence and are shot down by Republicans at every turn, countless lives have been lost – not just in Philadelphia but their inaction is costing lives around the state.
Gun violence costs you billions of dollars per year. However, that is nothing because you can’t put a price on the lives that were lost. Doing the right thing – passing proper gun safety legislation helps us ALL.
As I sat and listened to the hearings on both days, my takeaway is this – we should be working to have serious conversations to help save the lives of the people we serve, in a bipartisan way.
From my time being sworn in, I’ve been observing the way things are done, and listening to these hearings has solidified my opinion – that the hearing is a distraction, a way for Republicans to pretend they are doing something about gun violence.
My suggestion is this, show them in your votes. Show them in releasing funds that can support what the community needs not only to survive, but to thrive in life.
Working together speaks to progress, it shows the people we serve that we care. We may not know all of them, but we certainly owe them more than what we have provided.