For Immediate Release:
October 26, 2021
For More Information:
Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA, (267) 515-1220, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittany Campsie, PA Senate Democratic Caucus, (717-712-3480), Brittany.Crampsie@pasenate.com
4,600 dead in three years from guns. PA Senate bills could worsen it.
Gov. Wolf, Advocates, Senators Sound Alarm
HARRISBURG — Three years ago, a gunman killed 11 and injured 6 more at the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting. Since then, 4,600 more Pennsylvanians have been killed with firearms. Instead of advancing solutions to this rising devastation, the Pennsylvania Senate is preparing to vote on two pieces of legislation that would likely increase gun violence.
CeaseFirePA joined with Gov. Wolf, Senate Democrats, and community leaders to highlight the Senate Majority’s continued effort to undermine public safety in the Commonwealth.
“Gun violence touches every community in Pennsylvania, from a daily barrage of violence that is the equivalent of a mass shooting every week, to the devastation at the Tree of Life Synagogue, to gun suicide that takes a life every nine hours. We need everyone’s help to address this crisis. While the leadership of Governor Wolf and many Senators standing here today is critical, we need the full Senate to be part of the solution — not to prioritize legislation that makes communities less safe,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA.
“My administration has made it a top priority to address the scourge of gun violence but executive action alone cannot end gun violence in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Tom Wolf . “We need the General Assembly to take action to increase gun safety and prevent gun violence. I have repeatedly called for legislative action on key commonsense measures. Instead of acting to increase gun safety and reduce violence, the majority are instead pushing dangerous legislation that would make all of us less safe.”
Gun violence is up in every corner of the Commonwealth, with a recent FBI analysis showing a 27 percent increase in homicides statewide in 2020. But now, the Senate is preparing votes on bills that would allow anyone to carry a concealed firearm in public and would punish local officials grappling with the gun violence crisis.
- Senate Bill 448 (Langerholc) would allow anyone — including out-of-state organizations like the NRA — to sue a municipality for enacting gun safety policies, then force taxpayers to pick up the legal tab. This could stall municipalities’ efforts to develop innovative solutions to a crisis that is taking the lives of their constituents.
- Senate Bill 565 (Dush) would allow anyone over 18 to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without a permit. Dismantling the existing concealed carry permitting system and lowering the age from 21 will make it even easier for potential shooters to enter public spaces without being noticed.
“We should have taken steps to curb violence after the devastation of Columbine, or after the horror of Sandy Hook, or the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub, or the catastrophe in Parkland. But after each incident, the Republican leadership in Harrisburg, and in Washington, tells us it’s not the time to talk about gun violence,” said Senate Minority Leader, Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). “But instead of looking to stem the epidemic of gun violence, Republicans now want to have a conversation about deregulating firearms. That kind of reckless expansion of firearm access is not what we need, and it’s insulting to the victims of gun violence that such legislation is even being considered.”
“Republicans in the General Assembly should focus their energy on enacting common sense firearm legislation, such as universal background checks and banning ghost guns. These proposals enjoy wide bipartisan support, unlike the Republican firearms legislation, which despite having strong bipartisan opposition, is sitting on the Senate calendar,” Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) said. “Democrats fought for the $30 million for gun violence intervention and prevention grants to community groups that was included in the budget. With applications for funding through that program now closed, more than $170 million in requests were received. The General Assembly should be focused on providing additional financial resources to neighborhood level groups combating the rise in violence across the Commonwealth.”
“The paralyzing impact that comes to far too many Pennsylvania families as the result of a death due to gun violence is beyond words,” said Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia/Delaware). “But for the members of the Senate to run bills that are counter to that painful experience is a statement regarding their lack of compassion and well being for all Pennsylvanians.”
“At a time when gun violence is increasing, it is hard to understand how it is that Republicans in Harrisburg are pushing bills to prevent communities from being able to protect their residents,” said Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) We should be passing reasonable gun violence prevention measures like requiring universal background checks and the safe storage of all firearms.”
Instead of punishing local officials for trying to save the lives of constituents, advocates recommend a suite of policy solutions, including:
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which can cut gun suicide by up to 20 percent through providing loved ones and law enforcement with a tool to temporarily remove a firearm so the individual can get help;
- Requiring the reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms to reduce the trafficking of illegal firearms that fuel community violence;
- Closing a hole in the background check system that allows private purchases of long guns such as rifles and and assault weapons without any vetting;
- Increasing funding for community-based violence prevention programs that have helped cut urban homicides in other states by up to 50 percent.
In addition to a host of elected officials and citizens, the press event included Rabbi Ron Muroff from Harrisburg; Carol Lastowka, a gun owner and hunter from Delaware County; Reverend Sandy Strauss of the PA Council of Churches; Charlotte Borger of Students Demand Action and other community leaders.
“If lawmakers pass these bills weakening Pennsylvania’s gun laws, they will be neglecting the fact that residents throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are exposed to alarming rates of gun violence,” said Lauren Footman of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. “Those suffering from the daily toll of gun violence in cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and in our rural areas need legislators to address the structural inequities at the root of gun violence, continue funding community violence intervention programs, and pass common sense gun reforms, including an Extreme Risk Protection Order. Prioritizing and passing bills like permitless carry will have deadly consequences for our communities.”