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PA legislation would ban loaded firearms in vehicles

HARRISBURG, PA — Legislation has been proposed in Harrisburg that would ban loaded firearms in vehicles as a precaution against road-rage killings. The legislation was sparked by the death of Bianca Roberson in West Chester in January 2017.

Roberson, 18, was in a lane merger and David Desper became angry when she moved to go ahead of him. He picked up a loaded gun from the seat of the car and fired a shot that struck Roberson in the head and killed her. Police said the Roberson had the right of way. After being on the run for a few days, Desper turned himself in. He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in early September and faces up to 40 years in prison.

The legislation to prevent another such incident was introduced by Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester). Comitta’s bill would make it a crime for a person to carry a loaded weapon in any vehicle except for situations related to game hunting, law enforcement or security drivers. Hughes’ bill would include a prison sentence up to a year and fine of $2,500 for first-time offenders. Subsequent offenses would bring a prison sentence up to five years and a $10,000 fine.

Michelle Roberson, Bianca’s mother, said her daughter would still be alive if a reasonable ban had been in place, prohibiting her daughter’s killer from having a loaded gun so readily accessible. At a news conference in Harrisburg she said, “This was unnecessary, this did not have to happen. There’s no justice, there’s no sentencing that is going to heal my heart. I will never see this beautiful girl again.”

“Bianca’s life meant something,” Senator Hughes said. “We’re here to stand with this family. The legislation is not complicated, it is simple, and it is something that Bianca deserves to have, and it is something this family deserves to have.”

A foundation has been created in Bianca’s honor, which has worked to fundraise for a scholarship in Bianca’s name at Jacksonville University, to which Bianca had been accepted. According to Comitta, Michelle Robertson has worked tirelessly, advocating on behalf of her daughter and commonsense gun legislation.


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