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.
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). In a moment, 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.
Also 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.
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.
In 2018, we were part of the broad partnership 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).
Significantly, we have created an educated, informed and motivated constituency in PA to advocate for stronger gun laws to make our communities safer. Pennsylvanians are speaking up about gun violence and gun violence prevention, and making their voices heard by policy makers. We will work with any group — from elementary school kids to physicians — to ensure they are knowledgeable and confident and ready to turn their stories into cases for advocacy.