This week: Philadelphia leaders demand background checks; US Senators reach agreement

Murtha-Rendell Former Pennsylvania Governor and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell speaks during a press conference Wednesday morning outside the offices of Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey in Philadelphia, urging him to support background checks for all gun sales. Photograph by Tara Murtha, Philadelphia Weekly.

Present Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter demanded background checks and more in a passionate statement during the same event, which was also supported by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and CeasefirePA.

Gun Crisis Reporting Project partner Tara Murtha posted video from Nutter’s speech and reported on the event at http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com.

One day later, Toomey joined West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to announce that they had reached a bipartisan deal to expand background checks. The Wall Street Journal has a video report.

According to Reuters: The measure, which would be the first major gun-control legislation to pass Congress since 1994, still faces significant hurdles, including weeks of expected debate.

Nutter released a statement applauding Toomey but adding: “We must maintain this momentum as we push Congress to consider this and other measures, including limiting high-capacity magazines, stiffer penalties for straw purchasers, and specifically, Senator Feinstein’s measure to ban military-style assault weapons.”

President Obama also released a statement applauding the agreement, but added that “there are aspects of the agreement that I might prefer to be stronger.”

The New York Times reported this week on loopholes in the system even when background checks are required.

On Friday, the Huffington Post reported that the background check bill introduced in the Senate this week could soon have a bipartisan counterpart in the House, where most observers think new gun violence legislation faces a tougher hurdle.

This morning, the weekly White House address was delivered by Francine Wheeler, whose six year old son, Ben, was murdered alongside nineteen other children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, four months ago.

The New York Times is reporting that Ms. Wheeler’s speech was the first time during the Obama administration that someone other than Mr. Obama or Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has given the address.

Earlier this week, President Obama went to Connecticut to speak on gun violence prevention and brought families affected but he Sandy Hook shootings back to Washington to meet Senators.

As President Obama’s motorcade was returning to Bradley International Airport, police arrested a man they say pulled out a rifle-like BB gun, according to the Associated Press.

Today: A gun violence prevention rally is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Philadelphia’s LOVE Park.

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