Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.
John Lott (on right) testifies on Pittsburgh’s proposed gun-control regulations. (Ariel Worthy/WESA)
(Pittsburgh) – Critics of Pittsburgh’s proposed gun-control regulations were vocal during a post-agenda hearing convened by City Councilor Darlene Harris Tuesday afternoon.
“One of the things you see frequently mentioned is the choice of target,” he said.
Gun laws seeking to limit firearms were often ineffective, he added, because “drug gangs from the rest of the world bring in weapons” to the United States. Given that, “We have to be careful not to disarm law-abiding citizens.”
A second panelist, psychologist Charles Gallo, said that in the wake of a horrific act of gun violence like last fall’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, “The anger attempts to find a place to go … It doesn’t go to the perpetrator; it goes to an object.”
The panel’s make-up, which Harris’ office said was still being finalized as of Tuesday morning, tilted heavily toward foes of gun regulation. Gallo, for one, is a board member of Firearm Owners Against Crime, the region’s highest-profile gun-rights advocacy group. (The meeting agenda identified him only as a clincial psychologist.) Another panelist invited to speak, Kim Stolfer, is the group’s president, while a third speaker, Allegheny County Councilor Sam DeMarco, is a FOAC member who has been endorsed by the group in previous election cycles, and is up for re-election this year.
Stolfer drew umbrage from councilor Theresa Kail-Smith, who had supported Harris’ call for a post-agenda. At one point, he asked, “Why are we not holding the [Tree of Life] synagogue responsible for not having security?”
Protesters gather to criticize Pittsburgh’s new gun laws. (Kathleen J. Davis/WESA)
Kail Smith said she was “offended” by the question. “It’s almost blaming the victims,” she said. “When you make those kinds of comments, you hurt your own cause.”
But Lott has the highest national profile, in part because he frequently appears on TV following mass shootings, like the 2015 killing of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
His book “More Guns, Less Crime” is a touchstone for gun-rights advocates, though its argument that gun-control measures can increase crime has drawn criticism from other researchers. Lott himself came under fire after an incident in which he apparently created a fake online account to tout his accomplishments as an academic, among other controversies.
Harris called for the post-agenda, saying she wanted “neutral people” to weigh in on the city regulations, which would ban certain kinds of weapons, ammunition, and accessories. Harris herself has not backed the bill, though a council majority supports it.