NOTE: This letter was co-drafted by 3rd Way Collective, NAACP Penn State Chapter, and Penn State’s Social Justice Coalition. It was mailed to Senator Toomey on July 15th, 2016 with more than 150 signees! Senator Toomey’s response is also listed below the final signees.
To US Senator Pat Toomey (PA),
It is with sadness that we, the undersigned from The Pennsylvania State University and State College community, learned of your recent political action against common sense gun laws.
While we applaud your support of a limited measure to deny a gun sale to a known or suspected terrorist the Penn State University and State College community are concerned that you also contributed to defeating a bill to close the gun show loophole and expand background checks as well as voting against a measure to let the attorney general deny firearms and explosives to any suspected terrorists.
Our community has been mostly immune from gun violence, but within the past few years, even “Happy Valley” has been touched by gun violence. Twenty years ago our Penn State campus also experienced a school shooter, in recent months we’ve experienced three homicides, and in March of this year a student brought an assault rifle to a private school in nearby Spring Township, threatening violence.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, with more lives lost than any other mass shooting in the modern era, our community had hoped for more from a political representative such as yourself. We know as recently as 2013 you worked in bipartisan spaces to require background checks for commercial gun sales. However, your recent vote to increase government background check funding without expanding background checks seems to move in a counter direction.
Our region is not immune to gun violence because it touches and affects anyone who calls this nation their home.
We, the undersigned, urge you to be a Senator who is tough and firm on gun violence and one who is willing to step across the aisle to create a safer environment for future generations. We ask that you hear what your constituents are asking of you rather than national lobbyists working to serve gun manufacturers.
Briana Blackwell, NAACP Penn State Chapter (draftee)
Rev. Ben Wideman, Campus Pastor for 3rd Way Collective (draftee)
Brian Davis, Social Justice Coalition at Penn State (draftee)
John Bellanti, University Baptist & Brethren
Carolyn Bellanti, University Baptist & Brethren
Kerry Wiessmann, Centre LGBTQA Support
Hayly Hoch, Unitarian Universalist Students
Lucien Simpfendoerfer, Penn State University
Nathan Larkin, Fossil Free PSU
Tej Patnaik, AstraZeneca/SoleHut/PSU
Ethan Paul, Penn State Students for Sanders
Emily Pia, Fossil Free PSU
Makayla Baron, Fossil Free PSU
Alanna Kaiser, Fossil Free PSU
Kevin Swanick, Fossil Free PSU
Jessie Pierce, 3rd Way Collective
Andrew Uhring, University Park Undergraduate Association
Miranda Holmes, Fossil Free PSU
Faisal Hirji, The Multi-cultural Undergraduate Law Association
Robert Shreiner, Fossil Free PSU
O’Neill Kennedy, Penn State College Democrats
Joelle Khouri, Fossil Free PSU
Patrick Campbell, Penn State College Democrats
Emilee Ehret, Penn State College Democrats
Jessica Malerman, Penn State College Democrats
Chelsea McGhee, Triota
David Smith, Penn State College Democrats