The Beaver County Borough of Aliquippa of has grappled with violence for decades, though its mayor says things are getting better. In an effort to further reduce violence, Mayor Dwan Walker along with community and faith leaders called on state lawmakers Friday to support stronger background checks for gun sales.
“By having background checks done on anyone purchasing guns in or around the city, if that gun is lost or stolen, then they would have to report those guns in a timely manner with serial numbers, document what that gun was, and when they purchased it and what was the means or when or why it was stolen,” said Walker.
The mayor said he knows the impacts of gun violence all too well. His sister was shot and killed in 2009 by someone who had an illegal gun.
Walker said he would like to see background checks expanded to private gun sales, sales at gun shows, and online sales, as a way to better keep track of who is obtaining firearms. Walker is a member of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and said stricter gun sales requirements would help an already-improving small town continue on the right path.
“It’s getting better,” said Walker, “in 1999, when my sister was murdered, there were 11 murders in Aliquippa. Since then, we’ve had one last year and one this year.”
Pennsylvania’s US Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey (D) supported recent gun control legislation that failed in Washington. A bill in the Pennsylvania General Assembly is pending. That measure would require a background check for private sales of military-style guns as well as other long guns.
Walker was joined at Friday’s rally by Aliquippa Police Chief Andre Davis, a member of anti-gun violence group CeaseFirePA, and an Aliquippa funeral director who has handled services for victims of gun violence.