Pennsylvania Governor Calls for Action to Address Gun Violence

HarrisburgPA (STL.News) Governor Tom Wolf joined advocates, community leaders and Democratic lawmakers at the Capitol to continue their collective call for meaningful legislative action to address gun violence.

“My administration has made it a top priority to address the scourge of gun violence, but executive action alone cannot end gun violence in Pennsylvania.  We need the General Assembly to take action to increase gun safety and prevent gun violence,” Gov. Wolf said.  “I have repeatedly called for legislative action on key commonsense measures.  Instead of acting to increase gun safety and reduce violence, the majority are instead pushing dangerous legislation that would make all of us less safe.”

The governor has repeatedly called on the General Assembly to take up safe storage legislation to reduce the number of shootings by people who should not have access to guns, including accidental shootings by children;  to tighten reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns;  to swiftly pass the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law; and to pursue state-level universal background checks on all gun purchases.

The governor also supports CeaseFire PA’s legislative solutions, which similarly call for the following:

  • Creating Extreme Risk Protection Orders as a means to temporarily remove firearms from someone who wants to hurt themselves or others.
  • Reporting lost or stolen firearms within 72 hours, helping cut community violence.
  • Closing the gaps in Pennsylvania’s background check system to prevent the purchase of military-style rifles from a private, non-licensed seller.

“Communities across our commonwealth — especially Black and brown communities — are facing a daily barrage of gun violence as we now prepare to mark three years since the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.  We need everyone’s help to address this crisis.  While Governor Wolf’s leadership is greatly appreciated, we also need a Senate that is part of the solution — not a Senate ?that prioritizes legislation that makes communities less safe,” said Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFirePA.

Two measures may soon come to the Senate floor for consideration:  Senate Bill 448, which would allow anyone to sue a city for enacting gun safety policies then force taxpayers to pick up the legal costs, and Senate Bill 565, which would allow anyone over 18 to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without a permit.

“Republicans in the General Assembly should focus their energy on enacting common sense firearm legislation, such as universal background checks and banning ghost guns.  These proposals enjoy wide bipartisan support, unlike the Republican firearms legislation, which despite having strong bipartisan opposition, is sitting on the Senate calendar,” said state Senator Vincent Hughes.  “Democrats fought for the $30 million for gun violence intervention and prevention grants to community groups that was included in the budget.  With applications for funding through that program now closed, more than $170 million in requests were received.  The General Assembly should be focused on providing additional financial resources to neighborhood level groups combatting the rise in violence across the commonwealth.”

“The paralyzing impact that comes to far too many Pennsylvania families as a result of a death due to gun violence is beyond words,” said state Senator Anthony H. Williams.  “But for members of the Senate to run bills that are counter to that painful experience is a statement regarding their lack of compassion and well-being for all Pennsylvanians.”

The governor has made it a top priority to address the gun violence crisis impacting communities across the commonwealth.

In 2019, he signed an Executive Order creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and a Special Council on Gun Violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), as well as the Division of Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

As a result of recommendations of the council, PCCD has prioritized available funding to support direct, multi-year grants to organizations implementing gun violence prevention/intervention models.  In February, $3.1 million in Community Violence Prevention/Reduction grants were awarded to specifically target gun violence in Pennsylvania, with most of the awards going to support efforts in Philadelphia.  This effort builds on the $3.8 million that has been released in the previous two years to support efforts to reduce gun violence throughout Pennsylvania.

In May, the governor announced the availability of $5 million in funding through the Gun Violence Reduction Grant Program to support local efforts to reduce community gun violence in Philadelphia and other regions across the state experiencing surges in shootings, homicides and other firearm-related crimes.

In June, the budget that the governor signed included an additional $30 million for Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) grants, to be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), through the School Safety and Security Committee (SSSC).  This VIP funding will support effective local intervening and preventative measures to stop gun and group violence in regions that are experiencing high rates of violent crime.

Earlier this month, the governor joined New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to announce a Memorandum of Understanding to share crime gun data in an effort to prevent gun violence and enhance public safety.