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Central PA Congressional Race Has Single Focus: Guns

STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA - York County pastor George Scott is one of four Democrats running for the nomination to try to unseat Republican Congressman Scott Perry in Pennsylvania's 10th district.

Scott, who's an Army veteran, is now airing a commercial in which he dismantles an AR-15-style rifle and then throws it onto a fire- all while criticizing Perry.

Perry's campaign has ignored requests for comment since Thursday afternoon.

But Perry, who gets high ratings from gun rights groups, has made his stance reltaively clear: enforcement of existing laws must improve, and more restrictions won't address the root causes of gun violence.

All four Democrats vying for the chance to challenge Perry also stress tackling underlying problems.

But Scott slams Perry in a commercial that starts airing Friday, calling him one of "Donald Trump's loyal soldiers ... [who] exploit God and guns to score political points."

Perry's NRA contributions since 2012 are mid-range among the state's current congressional delegation, although most of the Pennsylvania Congressmen who got more money aren't running again.

Scott says he doesn't own any firearms, that he bought the gun in the video for the express purpose of making the commercial, and that this campaign designed it to try to shock voters into paying attention.

"We felt that in a primary election - particularly in an off presidential year - your standard 'Hi, I'm George Scott, this is who I am' type of ad wouldn't really catch much attention," Scott said after a Democratic debate Thursday night at Marketworks in the city of York.

Scott's commercial didn't get much play during the discussion.

But firearms policy did.

All four Democrats want universal background checks, bans on bump stocks and AR-15-style rifles, and more funding for CDC research on gun violenceand expanded access to mental health treatment.

Public health scientist Eric Dingis staunchest in the field in his refusal to forego any part of the multiple-pronged approach he envisions, including weeklong lags between gun purchase and delivery.

"We need to pass them all. At the same time," Ding says. "It's like if you forget to plug one hole out of all the holes in this leaky ship: your ship is still going to sink and you're not going to solve this."

Retired Air Force officer Alan Howe stands out for his stance against additional age restrictions on firearms purchases because he says there's no evidence that 18-to-21-year-olds perpetuate gun violence more than any other age group.

Scott says he's most likely to let go of expanding age minimums to all gun purchases to get other changes.

And Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson, who's from York but has lived in DC since college, says she favors many of the same initiatives as the other Democratic candidates.

But to Corbin-Johnson, who's worked for Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and in the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget, expanding background checks would have the most impact - and so, to get them, she's fully prepared to compromise.