To mark the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and second anniversary of the fatal shootings of three Pittsburgh police officers, CeaseFirePa, Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP), Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) along with other community groups are urging state and federal lawmakers to make changes to gun regulations.
Jana Finder, the Western Pennsylvania coordinator for CeaseFirePa, says that holes were revealed in the background check system after the Tucson, Arizona shooting that killed six people in January. She says that the loopholes can be closed if each state is required to submit the names of those who are prohibited from purchasing guns to the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI).
"The background check system is broken and it's not going to be repaired or work properly until the states provide the information they have."
Finder says that Pennsylvania has about a half million of those records, but not one has been submitted to the FBI.
The groups are also attempting to get a nationwide law requiring a background check for every gun purchase. Finder says that there are some circumstances in which the purchaser is not even asked for any form of identification.
On April 30th, CeaseFirePa, B-PEC, and PIIN are planning to hold a memorial service and public forum about gun violence during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) National Convention in Pittsburgh. Finder says that in the past, they have resisted CeaseFirePa's suggestions.
"We're holding this, sort of, counter-event to acknowledge the victims of gun violence and to let the National NRA members know that we are suffering from a gun violence problem."
Finder says a petition is being circulated online.