CP photo by Rebecca Addison
Shuana Gibson closes out today's event
If it's a Tuesday afternoon, you can usually find a group of at least a dozen protesters outside of the Downtown Pittsburgh office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). The group has been meeting at the senator's office over the past year to champion causes like healthcare and environmental regulations.
At today's installment of Tuesdays with Toomey
, the issue was gun control. The event was one of thousands that have occurred around the country in response to the recent massacre in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured.
The protesters said stricter gun laws could have helped prevent the massacre and called on Toomey to take action. Among the group's demands today were more rigorous background checks and the establishment of a national gun registry. According to event organizer Shauna Gibson, the Las Vegas shooter purchased dozens of weapons in the year before the shooting.
"If we had a registry, maybe someone would've noticed that this guy was stockpiling weapons and asked why," Gibson said.
Barbara Brandom, whose sister was shot and killed in 2006, also talked about the economic impact of gun violence.
"What about the cost? The cost for someone admitted to the hospital is $95,000 after being shot and two thirds of those people don't have health insurance, which is another big problem we have," said Brandom. "We cannot afford to be irresponsible with guns."
The Tuesdays with Toomey organizers have also been critical of Toomey's record on healthcare. Toomey was part of a team that failed to pass legislation meant to rollback the Affordable Care Act, which increased access to healthcare around the country.
But Toomey has differed from his Republican colleagues on the issue of gun control. In 2013, following the massacre of children in Newtown, Conn., Toomey signed on to a piece of legislation to strengthen background checks. And after the June 2016 Orlando massacre
, Toomey drafted legislation designed to keep firearms out of the hands of terrorists. But neither of those bills were passed.
"So far, despite his big talk and the fact he actually campaigned on this issue, Pat Toomey has done next to nothing to get common sense gun legislation passed," said Rob Conroy, organizing director of CeaseFirePA, a gun reform advocacy group. "Placing your name on the bill and abandoning it at the first sign of resistance is not the answer."
Ian Price, another speaker at today's event, said representatives like Toomey are not held accountable for inaction because of gerrymandering
, the technique of drawing voting districts so they benefit certain elected officials or political parties. In Pennsylvania, the House and Senate are currently considering legislation to end the practice.
"Why can't we pass gun control, why can't we pass environmental laws, why can't we pass healthcare? Our system is gerry-rigged or gerrymandered to dilute our vote," said Price. "They don't want our voices to be heard."