by Pete Mazzaccaro

Josh Shapiro, Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania Attorney General, was in Mt. Airy on Saturday morning, Oct. 29 to give a pep talk to a group of gun control advocates who were on their way to canvass voters for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The group, Mothers Demand Action, is a national gun control advocacy group founded in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings in which 20 elementary school children and six educators were killed.

“This has emerged as a key and defining issue in the race for attorney general,” Shapiro said. “On the one hand, I’ve made a career of standing up to the gun lobby, making sure we pursue common sense regulations, common sense laws that make our communities safer, that respect the second amendment rights, but also respect people’s rights to not get shot in their neighborhood.”

Shapiro said his Republican opponent, John Rafferty, is a “captive” to the gun lobby.

Rafferty has been endorsed by the NRA.

“John Rafferty Jr. has a proven record of support for the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund PAC, in a statement endorsing the candidate. “It is critical that Pennsylvania elects an attorney general who is willing to stand up to the extreme anti-gun agenda that’s being pushed by political elites like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg.”

Rafferty has been a proponent of the state’s Castile Doctrine, which permits the use of deadly force to defend property. It was recently amended to include a “stand your ground” provision, which adds language that a citizen has no obligation to retreat to defend himself in “any lawful place outside his own home.”

For his stance, the NRA has given Rafferty an A- rating. Shapiro’s stances have earned him a D with the lobbying group.

Shapiro said he intends to use the office of the AG to crack down on straw purchases, in which gun buyers purchase guns legally for others who can’t own guns legally. He said he also wants to push for universal background checks.

Shapiro said he also intends to work to close the “gun show loophole,” in which private gun sales aren’t required to conduct background checks.

“We are going to respect the important heritage guns play in Pennsylvania, but we are no doubt going to make Pennsylvanians safer,” he said.

Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or