Krasner rebuked by families of Philly gun violence victims as Pa. GOP pushes impeachment

Republicans also gutted a bill to limit legal age for buying high-powered rifles

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Parents of victims killed by gun violence in Philadelphia spoke in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg Tuesday, criticizing how the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office handled their children’s cases. They were invited by Republican House members who have begun the impeachment investigation into DA Larry Krasner.

The GOP press conference came as Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee avoided a vote on a bill that would have prevented anyone under the age of 21 from buying, possessing, or transporting high-powered, military-style rifles. This was the second time in eight days that the committee avoided a vote on gun safety legislation as Republicans publicized their attempts at impeaching Krasner.

In their impeachment effort, GOP lawmakers claim Krasner is violating his oath of office by not prosecuting crimes as prescribed by law.

“When a district attorney blanketly ignores our laws and says no to enforcing our laws, that is violating his oath of office that he swore to us,” said Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia.

“The lawlessness that has taken hold in our streets is unacceptable, and it is so disheartening that we have so many victims who will never have received justice because the scales have been tipped in favor of the criminals.”

Nakisha Billa’s son Domonic was shot and killed at the Philadelphia Mills Mall in March 2021, as he was shopping for new pants for a job interview.

“The person who murdered my son has a rap sheet that is long. If only the job was done correctly, he would not have been out on the street, and Domonic would be here,” said an emotional Billa.

“I'm urging, whatever it takes, please hold these people accountable for their actions. They're out here on the streets committing murders after murders, because no one is held accountable.”

Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Abbottstown, said Billa’s story is one of several they have heard through their website,

“They are the face of the dereliction of duty and the misbehavior that's happening in Philadelphia with this district attorney,” Ecker said.

15-year-old Sean Toomey was shot in the head in April as he got water out of his family’s car in Wissinoming, in what police say was an attempted carjacking. The press conference fell on what would have been his 16th birthday.

His father, John Toomey, expressed his frustration with Krasner.

“It's not his responsibility to act as a defense attorney for those who are in jail,” John Toomey said. “They already get a defense attorney. That's already taken care of. He's culpable to us.”

Krasner spokeswoman Jane Roh declined to address the statements from the family members. She instead pointed to a District Attorney’s Office statement from last week saying the impeachment is part of a continued Republican coup of "less violent but no less serious anti-democratic efforts to reverse the outcome of free and fair elections."

Krasner easily won reelection to a second term last year, handily defeating opponents in the primary and general.

“Democracy and freedom-loving Pennsylvanians will not be fooled by these anti-democratic efforts to de-value Philadelphia’s diverse votes," said Roh. "Philadelphia is not Pennsylvania’s colony. Our votes count in full, not as three-fifths of a vote."

Pa. GOP legislators again halt vote on bill to limit purchases of military-style rifles

Pennsylvania Democrats referred a bill on March 1 to the House Judiciary Committee to raise the age of purchasing high-powered rifles from 18 to 21. Since then, Republicans have avoided voting on that bill. On June 14, a resolution was presented to stop the committee from considering the bill.

Tuesday, Republicans used their majority in the committee to push through an amendment that entirely replaced the language in the bill, to instead allow anyone to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

On June 13 in the same committee, Republicans blocked a move by Democrats that would have forced a vote on a series of other gun safety bills.

One of those bills involves safe storage of firearms, while another allows cities and towns more power in regulating guns. A third bill would not allow certain assault-style weapons, while a final bill would call for “red flag legislation,” allowing for someone deemed unfit to have firearms to have them temporarily removed through a court petition.

Instead of voting on them, Republicans punted the bills to the House Local Government Committee.

The Gun Violence Archive says that between March 1 and Tuesday, 208 mass shootings have happened in the U.S.

Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Pittsburgh, said Republicans are simply avoiding a vote on whether anyone under 21 should be allowed access to dangerous weapons.

“We’re instead doing permitless concealed carry again,” said Kinkead about Tuesday’s amendments to the bill. “This is ridiculous.”

“I understand the majority party will never advance responsible gun violence prevention legislation out of this committee,” said the committee’s minority chair, Rep. Tim Briggs, D-King of Prussia.

“It’s a shame. It’s a shame that we can’t even have a conversation about it.”

Rep. Todd Stephens, R-North Wales, was the only Republican who voted against the amendment.

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