“Prevent a Shooting Before It Happens – Rather Than Wait Until Afterwards to Punish An Offender”

CeaseFirePA Provides Expert Testimony at U.S. House of Reps Judiciary Committee’s Field Hearing Focused on Victims of Violent Crime in Philadelphia; Urges a Focus on Proactive Policies to Make Communities Safer

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Today, CeaseFirePA, the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, testified before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee at a Field Hearing on Victims of Violent Crime in Philadelphia.

Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, served as an expert witness for the minority party to share data-based insights into the causes of and solutions to gun violence, and issued the following statement:

“The general perception remains violence is driven by criminal activity and drugs, but the evidence tells a very different story. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee should focus on their role–establishing popular, bipartisan, life-saving policies that will stop shootings before they happen. Gun violence is by and large preventable through evidence-based policies such as treating ghost guns like real guns, requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, allowing for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, ensuring firearm dealers are complying with laws to prevent gun trafficking, and investing in violence prevention and intervention programs. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and every community across America would be safer if Congress focused on efforts like these.”

Some of the key facts shared by Mr. Garber in his testimony include:

  • Drug trafficking is not the major driver of shootings. A comprehensive review of more than 2,000 shootings by the City of Philadelphia’s law enforcement, public health, courts and other critical public safety agencies, showed that interpersonal arguments were the most commonly identified shooting motive, accounting for over 50% of all shootings. Drug trafficking was only at 18%. This aligns with what we know about widespread firearms access.

  • Gun homicides are dropping precipitously in Philadelphia from pandemic-era highs, which were largely driven by acute economic and social stressors caused by pandemic isolation, a surge in gun sales, and the shutdown of most in-person community-based violence prevention and intervention programs. 2023 saw a 22% drop in gun homicides in Philadelphia. Non-fatal shootings dropped even more (29%). This trend has continued into 2024. As of last week, homicides dropped 34% compared to the 2023 pace – and shooting victims were down 44%. This is largely driven by a reversal in the above-mentioned societal trends and forces.
  • In 2022, the City of York had a higher homicide rate per capita than Philadelphia (40.9 compared to 34.3 per 100,000).
  • Rural communities face a quiet, but maybe deadlier, firearm suicide crisis as well. The Pennsylvania counties with the highest gun death rates per capita over the last five years are Philadelphia – but then rural Wayne and Carbon counties in Northeast PA, and then rural Bedford County in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The full hearing can be watched on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s website: https://judiciary.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/victims-violent-crime-philadelphia-0


As the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, CeaseFirePA organizes communities closest to the issue, holds those in power accountable, and maximizes the strengths of every member in its broad coalition.

Facing the truth about gun violence in PA