HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania was a swing state in the November election and could be a key battleground when it comes to gun control, debate participants say.
Pennsylvania has a large rural population with a strong tradition of firearms ownership. Through the years, the state has resisted efforts of gun-control advocates to put more restrictions in place. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday. However, the momentum may have shifted with the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, the report said.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who has a history of taking the National Rifle Association's point of view on guns, told the newspaper last week he is now ready to support bills to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell told the Inquirer he believes Pennsylvanians will go for "reasonable" gun laws, and, noting he won elections while supporting gun control measures, asked, "So, how tough is the NRA?"
But there are Pennsylvania gun owners such as Michael Gottlieb, a 55-year-old lawyer from East Norriton, who don't think it's right for gun-control advocates to use the Newtown shooting as leverage.
"There are politicians who see this as an opportunity," Gottlieb said Friday. "For them to capitalize on a tragedy like this to push their agenda is completely wrong."
Another gun enthusiast, Ron Jones, said during a break at the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club in Montgomery County that he agrees with Gottlieb's sentiments.
"What happened last week was the most unspeakable tragedy," said Jones, 54, an electronics technician from East Norriton. "But blaming the equipment won't help."