For Immediate Release:
October 30, 2023

For More Information:

Josh Fleitman, Campaign Director, (412) 426-5148,

Adam Garber, Executive Director, (267) 515-1220,

Gun Violence Survivors, Prevention Experts & Advocates Testify at PA Senate Policy Hearing that Reveals Need for Universal Background Check Legislation

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Today, CeaseFirePA Education Fund staff testified at a PA Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing in support of legislation that would establish universal background checks on all firearm sales in Pennsylvania (House Bill 714 & Senate Bill 60). The hearing comes on the heels of yet another high-profile mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, the 565th of the year in America, where a military-style rifle was used to kill 18 people and injure 13 others at a bowling alley and bar. House Bill 714 – which would close a gap in PA’s background check process that specifically allows these weapons of war to be purchased privately by convicted felons and would-be mass shooters – was passed by the PA House of Representatives with bipartisan support in May and awaits a hearing in the PA Senate Judiciary Committee.

Brandon Flood, CeaseFirePA Education Fund’s Deputy Director for Government Affairs, issued the following statement:

“AR-15 style assault rifles have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters, as we devastatingly saw again last week in Lewiston, Maine. And long-guns also account for 13% of the killings of law enforcement officers in the line of duty, as we saw all too tragically this past summer when a PA State Police barracks in Juniata County was attacked, killing Trooper Jacque Rougeau and seriously injuring Lt. James Wagner.

“The common thread connecting all of these tragedies? Easy access to weapons of war through a gaping hole in background check systems – including Pennsylvania’s. Today’s policy hearing exposed that fatal flaw and reminded us that these tragedies can and will happen again, unless we take life-saving action.

“Under current state law, there is nothing to functionally stop convicted felons, people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, and other Pennsylvanians who are already prohibited from purchasing any gun, from turning around and buying an AR-15 style rifle from a private seller who is not required to conduct a background check on long-gun sales. We cannot wait one day more to close this deadly gap in Pennsylvania law.

“We know that universal background checks will save lives in Pennsylvania – since 1998, more than 92,000 firearm sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied in Pennsylvania, only because of a background check. There is no reason this simple process shouldn’t be extended to all firearm sales – especially those that are increasingly used in mass killings and attacks on law enforcement.

“With 89% of Pennsylvania voters supporting universal background checks – including 85% of gun owners and 81% of Republicans – the PA Senate must take action immediately to pass bipartisan, popular, life-saving universal background checks legislation.”

The full written testimony provided at today’s policy hearing by Brandon Flood, CeaseFirePA’s Deputy Director for Government Affairs, is available to read and for use by the media here.


As the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, CeaseFirePA Education Fund works to ensure everyone can live a life free from gun violence. We organize with communities closest to the issue, hold those in power accountable, and maximize the strengths of every member in our broad coalition.

Facing the truth about gun violence in PA