We have had several major gun violence prevention victories — despite the tough opposition from the gun lobby in PA. They have come in the forms of Executive Action, Court action and legislative action.
- 2019 — For years, we have been advocating to local police, state police, the offices of the Governor, Attorney General and Auditor General to collect, aggregate and analyze data from the ATF e-trace program about crime guns in Pennsylvania to help create a better picture about the transformation of legal guns into illegal guns in the Commonwealth. This type of analysis has been implemented in other parts of the country, resulting in gun trafficking reports with valuable data and recommendations. This is valuable not only to law enforcement but also to promote public understanding about the importance of safe storage, reporting of lost or stolen guns, the dangers of straw purchasing and the serious problem of trafficking. In July 2019, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Track Trace, a program to encourage local jurisdictions to participate in ATF’s e-Trace program and join a working group of law enforcement focused on crime gun tracing. We are hopeful this initiative will lead to a comprehensive public report about how guns are transformed into crime guns, and how far and for how long they travel within and in and out of PA before becoming crime guns.
- In early 2013, after years of our advocacy to the Governor (then Governor Corbett) and the PA State Police, Pennsylvania finally began sharing its mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS). 642,000 records were uploaded, and since that time, PA is one of the most compliant states in sharing mental health records that prohibit someone from purchasing a firearm, ensuring that those who attempt to buy guns out of state will have their records available for check by other states.
- In early 2013 and again following years of our advocacy, the PA Attorney General (then AG Kane) started to review and renegotiate concealed carry reciprocity agreements with other states to ensure that similar standards governed issuance of licenses that would receive reciprocal recognition and to ensure that PA residents obtain PA licenses in order to carry concealed in PA. This closed what was known as the Florida loophole that allowed those who could not get a license in PA to apply online and obtain a Florida concealed carry license for use in PA. Attorney General Shapiro has continued to review and renegotiate these agreements to ensure safety in PA.
- In Fall 2018, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a comprehensive report about Gun Deaths in PA, making several conclusions and recommendations based on proposals we shared with him, including: proposing a statewide crime gun trace data collection process with an accompanying public report; and urging all sheriffs to check references provided on applications for concealed carry licenses.
- In fall 2012, the legislature passed and Governor Corbett signed the Brad Fox law to set mandatory minimum sentences for defendants who are convicted of multiple straw purchases. We supported the bill to help fight trafficking and ensure that straw purchasing was recognized as a serious offense.
- In 2018, we were part of the broad coalition that helped enact Act 79, the law to disarm domestic abusers in PA. This is the first major piece of gun violence prevention legislation passed in PA (that does not simply address sentencing for crimes or criminalizing new forms of behavior).
- In spring 2013, both PA Senators voted in favor of expanding background checks when the Manchin-Toomey bill was voted on.
- In February 2019, all Pa democrats and one Pa republican in the U.S. House voted to expand background checks and close the Charleston loophole.
Bad Policies Blocked
- The PA legislature has continuously attempted to eliminate the PA Instant Check System or PICS. PICS is not only supported by the State Police, but is often recognized as one of the only positive gun laws within PA. By mobilizing our base, and working with allies, we have been able to defeat each attempt to push this dangerous proposal and have in fact had it twice removed from committee agendas.
- In 2017, the legislature attempted to enable local school districts to allow teachers and other non-security personnel to carry firearms in our schools. Through an aggressive legislative and educational strategy we have been able to fight the bill. Although it passed the Senate, every legislator we targeted, both Republican and Democrat, voted against this dangerous legislation.
- During the 2015-16 and 2017-18 session, we have blocked the reenactment of punitive preemption, a bill to enable the NRA to sue Pa municipalities that enact their own gun ordinances.
- In December 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow concealed carry reciprocity. We made this a key action. As a result all the PA democrats and three Pa Republicans voted No. Those three, were 3 of 14 Republicans who voted no.
- Following the enactment of Act 192 in 2014 (the special standing/punitive preemption bill), we put together a lawsuit to challenge the law as unconstitutionally passed. The Commonwealth Court ruled in our favor in 2015, and the Supreme Court affirmed in 2016, striking down Act 192. Since that time, the legislature has been unable to reenact the provisions of Act 192, and towns and cities have been safe from the frivolous and expensive lawsuits that were engendered by that legislation.
- After Tamaqua School District decided to adopt and implement a policy to arm teachers and other non security personnel in school, we secured counsel for a group of parents to challenge the policy, filed an amicus brief in the Union’s separate lawsuit against the policy, and have worked with parents fighting the School Board.
Grass Roots Engagement
- Annually, CeaseFirePA brings hundreds of Pennsylvanians to Harrisburg to demand action and champion policies including the expansion of the background check system, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, lost and stolen reporting requirements, safe storage and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
- We have been engaged with training young people to be advocates for themselves and their communities. Our Pittsburgh based Motivating Young Citizens has educated hundreds of young people about government, policy, and advocacy. They have put what they learn into practice, writing opinion pieces, speaking to policy makers and advocating for change. We have visited schools – from elementary to college – throughout PA to empower young people with the tools and resources they need to be strong advocates.
- In an effort to increase the role and presence of those in the medical community in the debate of GVP, we have begun a medical engagement program. By working with doctors, nurses, other health care providers and providers-in-training, we are producing programs and educational materials that medical professionals may use to inform patients about the dangers of guns and legislation that impacts their profession.
- Deliver thousands of emails and calls each year to lawmakers about policy issues coming before them in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.
Holding Lawmakers Accountable
- We track voting records and rank legislators based on their votes on key priorities. We ensure the information is easily accessible to Pennsylvanians.
- CeaseFire Pennsylvania has worked to make Gun Violence Prevention a key focus of voters. Every year, we survey candidates and ensure voters know where the candidates stand.
- CeaseFire Pennsylvania endorses candidates based on their records and surveys. Each year, more candidates — from both major parties — seek our endorsement.