New Capitol Installation Counts Days Gun Safety Bills Have Sat Without Senate Action While Pennsylvanians Die
It’s Been 175 Days Since the PA House Passed Two Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention Bills; Advocates Decy “Not One Day More”
HARRISBURG — Today, legislative champions for gun violence prevention stood in the Pennsylvania State Capitol with CeaseFirePA Education Fund to launch a new campaign urging the Senate majority to take long-delayed action on life-saving legislation. The announcement of the new“Not One Day More” campaign featured the unveiling of a physical clock that will continually count up the days since the PA House sent two bipartisan bills over to the Senate. The clock will remain indefinitely displayed in the Capitol until action is taken by the Senate, and will serve as a constant and enduring reminder to legislators and the public that Pennsylvanians cannot wait one day more for action on gun safety.
“175 days after the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two life-saving, bipartisan gun violence prevention bills – with zero action from Senate leaders and hundreds of Pennsylvanians dying from firearm violence since then – we stand united in demanding: Not One Day More,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA Education Fund. “Not one day more of a family’s grief from a loved one’s gun suicide being worsened by the knowledge that they could have used an Extreme Risk Protection Order to save their life – if the Senate had taken action. Not one day more of parents constantly fearing for a mass shooting at their child’s school, or looking over their shoulder at the bowling alley – all because the Senate refuses to enact universal background checks that could stop weapons of war from getting into the wrong hands. Every single day the Senate waits to follow the House’s leadership, on-average five Pennsylvanians die from gun violence. But it’s not too late. Chair Baker and Majority Leader Pittman: schedule a hearing on life-saving gun safety legislation and vote on these bills immediately.”
On May 22, 2023, the PA House of Representatives passed two gun violence prevention bills with bipartisan support, which have since languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee without so much as a hearing:
HB 1018 to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) to prevent firearm suicides, mass shootings, and domestic violence homicides.
HB 714 to enact Universal Background Checks to stop weapons of war from getting into the hands of those prohibited from owning firearms by closing a gap in PA’s system that allows long guns to be privately purchased or transferred without a background check.
These policies are supported by strong majorities of Pennsylvania gun owners, according to a 2022 public opinion poll (85% support for background checks and 70% for ERPOs among PA gun owners, specifically).
“I’ve hunted my whole life and trained others on gun safety. I’ve had background checks when I buy a gun, and that should be the norm for every purchase in the Commonwealth. We cannot wait another day for our elected officials to save lives,” said Gary Perecko, a hunter, gun safety advocate, and Harrisburg resident who spoke at the press conference.
CeaseFirePA and its Common Agenda to End Gun Violence coalition of over 130 organizations will continue to mobilize every corner of the Commonwealth and put increasing pressure on the Senate majority to take action. Already, vigils are planned in multiple counties around December 8th – 200 days after the House passed the bills. CeaseFirePA Education Fund will also continue to partner with allies in the General Assembly, who also voiced support at the campaign launch event.
“Keeping guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves and others helps free families from the fear that someone they love will do the unthinkable in a moment of crisis. We have seen too many tragedies. We cannot wait until another one happens. These bills protect people’s rights and will help prevent senseless acts of violence. The time is now,” said PA House Majority Leader Matt Bradford.
“We are a very active House Judiciary Committee and we will continue to move legislation that we believe makes our children and communities safer,” said State Representative Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery), chair of the PA House Judiciary Committee. “I anticipate we will increase our tempo and move even more gun violence prevention bills. Inaction in the Senate does not nullify my responsibility to do the right thing for the people of this Commonwealth.”
“Ensuring the safety of this Commonwealth should be a bipartisan priority. It is imperative that the Senate Judiciary Committee prioritize the well-being of our citizens by bringing crucial, common sense firearm safety legislation, such as universal background checks up for a vote. We must work together, today, to make communities safer,” said State Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery & Delaware), Co-Chair of the PA SAFE Caucus.
“At a time when gun violence is once again rampant in our communities, we must increase our efforts to work together at all levels of government and within our neighborhoods, to act boldly in getting illegal guns off the streets and out of our homes. Families have been torn apart by senseless killings that continue unabated to the present day,” said State Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia).
“As the daughter of a Veteran Marine and Philadelphia firefighter who died by suicide, I have first-hand knowledge of the travesty that can befall families when mental health issues, like trauma, and access to firearms converge,” said State Representative Jennifer O’Mara (D-Delaware), the prime sponsor of House Bill 1018. “Other states see the value in gun reform measures, like ERPOs, and have taken action to save lives. If ERPOs existed before my father passed away, I believe he would be with us today. What are we waiting on? We need to pass these laws now so that no other family in Pennsylvania has to experience the tragedy mine did.”
“Pennsylvanians want a bipartisan approach that actually protects residents. We want to send our kids to school without fear. We want to be able to sit on our front porch without fear. It’s time for the State Senate to pass HB 714 and HB 1018,” said State Representative Napoleon Nelson (D-Philadelphia) Chairman of the PA Black Legislative Caucus.
The full video of the press conference is available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWoTomqN8fM
As the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, CeaseFirePA Education Fund organizes communities closest to the issue, holds those in power accountable, and maximizes the strengths of every member in its broad coalition.