Politics Of Guns And Gun Safety Split Pennsylvanians

It seems like the issue of gun rights and gun control have gone on for decades in Pennsylvania without much changing. KDKA's political editor Jon Delano takes a closer look at the politics of guns in this Commonwealth.

Video Transcript

JON DELANO: Many in this region grew up hunting. Others know guns from military service. And thousands more own guns for protection and sport. Then there's this political reality.

- Pennsylvania still has, I believe, the largest number of NRA members in any state in the country.

JON DELANO: Politically, it adds up to a pro-gun rights majority in the Republican-controlled legislature. Say Democrats.

- There are a number of extreme groups that have pushed candidates on the Republican side where they will not consider even basic expansion of background checks to make sure that guns stay out of the hands of criminals.

JOSH FLEITMAN: The politics of gun violence prevention, it's challenging. I won't sugarcoat it for you.

JON DELANO: Josh Fleitman with CeaseFire PA, a group that lobbies for stronger gun control measures, is optimistic but observes--

JOSH FLEITMAN: Gun violence and guns have become yet another front on the culture wars.

JON DELANO: Meaning, he says, opponents stoke fear that someone is going to take their firearms. But limitations on gun rights is exactly what worries Kim Stolfer with the Firearm Owners Against Crime.

KIM STOLFER: The legislators in the Pennsylvania House and the Pennsylvania Senate who have not supported gun control have done so based on three basic pillars. One, it's a violation of the constitutional rights of all citizens. Two, the facts don't support gun control whatsoever. And three, we're not doing a good job, and they recognize that, of holding criminals accountable.

JON DELANO: Strategists in both parties say, right now at least, gun issues motivate Republicans more than Democrats.

- And I think that there are more voters who support the Second Amendment in Pennsylvania than support gun control.

- For a lot of voters, it is not a motivator. And that's always been one of the challenges that Democrats have had on this issue.

JON DELANO: Now it's not always party line. Analysts say some suburban Republicans favor gun safety measures, while rural Democrats tend to oppose, which makes this all a complicated issue. Jon Delano, KDKA news.