3D Printed Guns
Looking to stop the spread of undetectable and untraceable 3D-printed guns, I joined my colleague, Senator Vincent Hughes, in introducing a bill to ensure Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act applies to 3D-printed guns.
The proposal would amend the definition of a “firearm” in Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act to include 3D printed guns. The legislation would also prohibit anyone from printing a 3D firearm unless they have a firearm manufacturing license from the federal government.
To say this situation is troubling is an understatement. The door is being opened to having anyone, anywhere at any time to build a gun on demand with no background check or without going through a licensed gun dealer. Because 3D printed firearms cannot be traced back to their producer or owner, it will make it possible for these “ghost guns” to get into the wrong hands without fear of consequence if used in a crime. This will make the job of law enforcement extremely difficult. And the fact that they are plastic means that conventional security methods will be essentially ineffective. As a civil society, we owe it to everyone to prevent this loophole from becoming practice.
Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania State Police successfully blocked access to 3D gun files made available by Defense Distributed, following an emergency hearing July 29 in federal court. At that time, more than 1,000 people across the U.S. had already downloaded 3D plans for AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, according to the attorney general’s office.
According to the lawsuit state officials filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, anyone can become a member of Defense Distributed for a nominal fee. Once signed up, members pick a username, password and supply an email. At no time do users provide proof of age, a valid gun license or a permit-to-carry number.
Eight other states and the District of Columbia sued to block access to 3D printed guns and a federal court judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday preventing online publication of blueprints for the 3D guns. In 2015, a writer for Wired created an untraceable AR-15, dubbed a “ghost gun,” for less than $2,300 using a blueprint from Defense Distributed and a mill the company created, which sold for $1,500.
Dry Leaf Medical Marijuana Now Available
On August 1, the dry leaf form of medical marijuana became available at 16 locations throughout Pennsylvania with the expansion of 28 locations this week. The original Medical Marijuana law, Act 16 of 2016, did not include the dry leaf form of medical marijuana. This was mostly out of concern that it would end up being diverted to illegal recreational use or smoked which is prohibited under Pennsylvania law. However, after recommendations by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, Governor Wolf announced the plans to enable the selling of the dry leaf form.
Up until last week, medical consumers only had access to pills, oils, topical gels, creams or ointments of medical marijuana. Now, dry leaf users can vaporize it with a pen-like device that heats the plant from about 285 degrees to about 340 degrees, allowing the active ingredients to be inhaled.
The demand for leaf medical marijuana has been significant. This is because dry leaf is one of the only forms of medical marijuana that presents all the cannabinoids that processors can collect since nothing is converted into a concentrated form. As a result, dry leaf has found to be more effective in treating medical conditions as well as it is the fasting acting form of relief. Not to mention vaporized dry leaf does not contain tar, cancer causing or other hazardous chemicals that occur when marijuana is burned.
Since dry leaf strains require less processing than oil, pills, topicals and other products, it is much more cost-effective for the buyer. The price of dry leaf marijuana varies according to quantity, particular strain and dispensary. Some dry leaf will sell for as little as $10 per gram, which is roughly one dose, to about $65 for 3.5 grams. On average, a consumer will spend between $30 and $50 per week which is about 50 to 60 percent cheaper than the processed product. And in a mainly cash-only industry, this is especially important for the medical consumer.
As of August 1, two Pittsburgh dispensaries have dry leaf medical marijuana: Cresco Yeltrah located at 2116 Penn Avenue and Solevo which is located at 5600 Forward Avenue. Individuals who have their medical marijuana ID are encouraged to contact their local dispensary prior to visiting to be sure the form of medical marijuana they are looking for is available there and in stock. Consumers may also visit www.medicalmarijuana.pa.gov to see when their local dispensary will have dry leaf available.
As the Vice-Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) I want to encourage college-bound high-school students preparing to return to school at the end of the summer, and their families, to visit www.MySmartBorrowing.org to learn how informed choices made during the planning process can help them avoid unmanageable or unnecessary student loan debt after graduation.
Student loan debt is a growing problem for millions of student loan borrowers who typically graduate college with more than $34,000 of loan debt. Such high levels of debt can be extremely burdensome, especially for young adults who are beginning life after graduation with limited financial experience.
Unfortunately, many young adults realize that they borrowed too much when it is too late, and they find themselves struggling through repayment. In most cases, over borrowing can be avoided when students understand the potential consequences of different choices before they commit to a student loan.
MySmartBorrowing.org is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps users understand how different career, school, and financial decisions can influence the cost of an education and their ability to repay student loans, while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle long after graduation.
MySmartBorrowing was recently updated with enhanced college and career projection data through 2026. This includes expected college costs for various majors at different schools and future employment opportunities and salary levels for different careers and geographic locations. This data is used by the site’s estimators to provide a personalized look at a student’s potential cost of attendance at different schools, while highlighting salary expectations for a particular degree and their future employment prospects.
College-bound students are encouraged to use the site more than once, so they can compare different scenarios, using different schools and careers, to see how the choices they make can affect their futures.
The first step of any higher education funding plan, before taking out any loan, is to make sure you exhaust all eligibility for gift aid, such as scholarships and grants, which do not need to be repaid. However, every student’s financial situation is unique so when borrowing is unavoidable, its best to understand all available options and how different choices can affect a student’s financial stability long after graduation.
When borrowing is necessary, MySmartBorrowing.org helps users understand the benefits and obligations of different loan options to help minimize loan debt while preparing them for future repayment responsibilities.
To become a “smart borrower,” PHEAA recommends these important tips:
- Research what you can expect to earn in your future career, find an affordable school, and borrow realistically.
- Before selecting a major, research the availability of job opportunities in your chosen field to gauge you employability - and your ability to repay student loans.
- Consider all types of financial aid carefully and understand the benefits and obligations of each.
- Before borrowing, learn about the many loan options available.
- Understand that inconsistent or untimely loan repayment could result in long-term consequences.
Students and families are encouraged to visit PHEAA on Facebook, at facebook.com/pheaa.aid and on twitter at twitter.com/PHEAAaid where they can learn more about planning for higher education, including the funding process and reminders of upcoming financial aid application deadlines. Additionally, video tutorials explaining the student aid process and types of aid available can be found at YouTube.com/PHEAAstudentAid.
Did You Know…
Did you know that nationally, 44 million student borrowers owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loans?
Flu Shot Clinic/Drug Take Back
I will be hosting my annual Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic on Thursday, September 20 from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline. American HealthCare Group will be providing free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card. Make sure to bring your card with you. Light refreshments will be served.
Additionally, this year, Deputy Sheriff Joe Cirigliano will be on hand to collect any unused, unwanted, or expired medications as part of Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen’s Project D.U.M.P. initiative. This program allows residents to bring any unused, unwanted or expired medications so they can be properly disposed. I’m thrilled to have the Sheriff’s Office participating and am grateful for their efforts in combatting the heroin and opioid epidemic and preventing addiction and overdose.
Attendees can also visit with Duquesne University’s Mylan School of Pharmacy at their “Ask the Pharmacist” table and have questions answered on medications and receive blood pressure screenings. The following terrific organizations are scheduled to participate at this year’s event: Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging; AARP; PA Attorney General’s Office; Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; ACCESS; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Office of the Consumer Advocate; Duquesne Light; OASIS; PA APPRISE; and the Public Utility Commission.
National Night Out
Tonight, is National Night Out across the country. This event, which began in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, is held on a selected night each year to raise crime and drug prevention awareness and generate support for local anti-crime programs while strengthening partnerships between communities and local law enforcement.
Last year more than 50 events were held in neighborhoods throughout the City of Pittsburgh. To find an event in your neighborhood click here or visit the City of Pittsburgh's Public Safety website or if you live in a suburban community, check with your local municipality.
Oasis Tutoring Program
The OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program is hosting two free training sessions for older adults interested in volunteering as tutors. OASIS is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains older adults (50+) to tutor children (grades K-4) in Pittsburgh Public Schools in reading and writing. OASIS has tutors in over 33 schools and serves 200 students yearly.
Training sessions will be held on Tuesday, August 21 and Thursday, August 23 from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the OASIS office, located in the Duquesne Light Building, Suite 525 at 411 Seventh Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. All materials and clearances are provided by OASIS.
For more information on how to become an OASIS tutor, please contact John D. Spehar, Pittsburgh OASIS Tutoring Program Director at 412-393-7648 or firstname.lastname@example.org. OASIS is an affiliate of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council.
Brookline Breeze & Breezefest
The 37th annual Brookline Breeze 5K Run and Fitness Walk is scheduled for this Saturday, August 11. The day begins at 7 a.m. with package pickup and pre-race registrations. The first event of the morning starts at 8:35 a.m. with the One-Mile Mini-Breeze for the young ones, followed by the One-Mile Dog Walk. The Mini-Breeze course is laid out around the perimeter of Brookline Park. Then, at 9 a.m., it's time for the main event, the 5K run/walk. Anyone interested in participating can visit http://www.brooklinebreeze.com/ for more information.
Following the race is the annual BreezeFest along Brookline Boulevard, running from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., organized by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce. Breezefest features food, children’s activities, live music, and arts and crafts and sidewalk sales. For more information on Breezefest please visit www.brooklinenow.com.
On this day in 1782, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, created the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for “any singularly meritorious action” and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree’s name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a “Book of Merit.” Washington’s “Purple Heart” was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The “Book of Merit” was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to “revive the Badge of Military Merit.” In 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216