Open Letter to US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

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)

Sarah Q. Malone
Hillel Brandes
Chanda Burrage, Penn State University
Fran Osseo-Asare
Brandon Sullivan, 3rd Way Collective
Debra Greenleaf
Alex Hagen, Penn State University
Rev. Marvin Friesen, University Mennonite Church
Pam Calkins
Cynthia Hill
Mojdeh Motamedi, Central Pennsylvania Community Housing
Sarah Kern
Diane Lehman
Leah Witzig
Daniel Mcclosky, Penn State University
Nadine Swartz, Penn State University
Anne Pauley, 3rd Way Collective
Howard Bond, Penn State University
Erica Frankenberg
Maeve Rooney
Lindsey Hogge
Charles Dumas, Penn State Professor Emeritus
Cynthia Lukyanenko
Angela Grant
Marta Millar
Douglas Miller
Shanta Mills, NAACP Penn State Chapter
Tiara Dowling, NAACP Penn State Chapter
Cameron Spiller
Jennifer Kelly
Kyle Snowberger
Olayemi Olugbuyi, TCEP
Zakiyyah Johnson, NAACP Penn State Chapter
Nnaemeka Ani
Jonathan Stube, Penn State Psychological Clinic
Liane S. Roe
Jason Reiter, Penn State University
Shirley Donovan
Mary Watson
Jonathan Abu, Former President, NAACP Penn State Chapter
Devin J. Pohly, Penn State University
Amy Elliott
Alicia Anderson, Lutheran Campus Ministry at Penn State
Katie Nurmi
Karen Neff
Jennifer Gruendler
Ashelyn Polonia, Penn State Latino Caucus
Janai James-Brown
Jorge Zurita-Coronado, University Park Undergraduate Assocation
Jillian Gonzalez
Emily Taylor
Kay DiMarco
Veronica Weyhrauch, PSU College Democrats
Antonio Williams
Jeff Etienne
Nathaniel D. Porter, PSU Progressive Student Coalition
Marlon Moses
Zakariya Khayat, Muslim Students Association & Social Justice Coalition
Alyssa Pandos, Penn State University
Shannon Telenko
Amanda Goldberg, 3rd Way Collective
Samantha Worthing, Planned Parenthood Keystone
Michael Wood
Bako Ekoko, Multicultural Women’s Forum and Youth Empowerment Program
Erikah Hurtt, Social Justice Coalition
Stacy Suhadolc
Ashley Smith
Ashley Rankine, Caribbean Student Association
Shakinah Perry, Yep Mentorship
Malachi Burden
Christian Heinemann
Briana Sheeler
Brianna Thompson, Caribbean Student Association, Black Student Union
Brooke Jin
Pat House
Dave Gantz
Anne Ard
Erin Sacksteder, 3rd Way Collective
Alexis Scott, QTPOC at Penn State
Dorothy Schumacher
Nicole Miyashiro
Richard Bievrer
Samantha Mathews, United Students Against Sweatshops
Dr. Courtney Desiree Morris
Emily Gifford, United Students Against Sweatshops
Joyce E. Hall
Sofi Skidgel
Ashley Dorsey, Penn State University
Shirley Zhang
Mark Sideck
Wideline Seraphin
Ai Kawasaki
Hannah Colen
Whitney Brown, Black Student Union
Sheritha McClean, Black Student Union
Gerogie Croom, Black Student Union
Arnee Maleeca, Black Student Union
Kyia Johnson, Black Student Union
Attiyana Coe, Black Student Union
Janelle Bullock
Taylor Ware, Black Student Union
Muhammed Adewale
Chelsea Dadebo
Nnaemeka Ani

John Bellanti, University Baptist & Brethren
Carolyn Bellanti, University Baptist & Brethren
Kerry Wiessmann, Centre LGBTQA Support
Laura Reed-Morrisson
Stacy J.
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
Tim Groh
Jenna LaRosa
Peter Buckland
Jessie Pierce, 3rd Way Collective
Andrew Uhring, University Park Undergraduate Association
Tessa Sontheimer
Miranda Holmes, Fossil Free PSU
Faisal Hirji, The Multi-cultural Undergraduate Law Association
Robert Shreiner, Fossil Free PSU
Claire Going
Ieva Perkons
Shaokang Yuan
Mila Tamminga
O’Neill Kennedy, Penn State College Democrats
Joelle Khouri, Fossil Free PSU
Patrick Campbell, Penn State College Democrats
Denis Pasic
Zoe Adler
Brandon Cruz
Emilee Ehret, Penn State College Democrats
Jessica Malerman, Penn State College Democrats
Mark Kissling
Chelsea McGhee, Triota
Elicia Yoffee
Colleen Ginder
David Smith, Penn State College Democrats
Sarah D’Souza
Aaron Blakney
Elizabeth Shenk
Cecile King
Gina Thompson
Jennifer Heller