PA House of Representatives Passes Two Gun Violence Prevention Bills with Bipartisan Support
Final Passage of Extreme Risk Protection Order and Universal Background Check Legislation Marks Historic Progress for Safer Communities
May 22, 2023 – Harrisburg, PA — Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two life-saving pieces of gun safety legislation, sending the bills to the PA Senate with bipartisan support. The historic move marks a dramatic step forward for gun violence prevention policy change in the PA House, which for over a decade has obstructed broadly popular and evidence-based policies that would make our communities safer. Now, that is finally starting to change.
“This was a day that thousands of Pennsylvanians have been waiting for and dreaming of for years. We just saw a little bit of history get made today,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA Action. “Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – Republican and Democratic members alike – finally acknowledged the massive toll of the gun violence epidemic, which claimed the lives of 1,900 Pennsylvanians in 2022. This is how we honor them: with life-saving action. But we’re not done yet. We will not stop honoring those we’ve already lost and preventing the next death until these and other bills are on Governor Shapiro’s desk. We will not rest until all Pennsylvanians can live a life free from gun violence.”
Dozens of gun violence prevention advocates from across Pennsylvania watched live from the House gallery as the debates and votes took place, cheering as the years-long legislative logjam on gun safety issues broke and the voices of the majority of Pennsylvanians were finally heard and acted upon. They pledged to continue closely watching Harrisburg and advocating to their legislators to continue advancing these and other gun safety bills.
The legislation passed today includes:
- HB 1018 to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) to prevent firearm suicides, mass shootings, and domestic violence homicides. This bill passed 102-99.
- HB 714 to enact Universal Background Checks to stop weapons of war from getting into the wrong hands by closing a gap in PA’s system that allows long guns to be privately purchased or transferred without a background check. This bill passed 109-92.
A third bill, HB 338, which would require the reporting of lost and stolen firearms to reduce the flow of illegal guns fueling community-based violence, narrowly failed by a one vote margin of 101-100. Advocates expressed disappointment that the House missed this opportunity to reduce neighborhood shootings, but vowed to continue fighting to build support for this legislation that would help hold straw purchasers accountable.
A fourth bill, HB 731, which would requiring the safe storage of guns in the home to prevent school shootings, suicides, and unintentional shootings, was advanced at Second Consideration on May 3 but was not brought up for a vote today. Advocates will continue pushing for a final vote and passage of this life-saving legislation.
The four bills collectively represent a package of legislation called The Common Agenda to End Gun Violence that would address the full scope of the gun violence crisis in Pennsylvania. CeaseFirePA Action sent a letter to all members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives urging them to vote yes on all four pieces of legislation.
Today’s Final Passage votes follow a flurry of activity and a rapid building of momentum behind the policies. On March 23, 500 Pennsylvanians from half the counties in our Commonwealth descended on the Capitol to rally for the Common Agenda and watch the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence prevention in over a decade. Then, the Judiciary Committee passed all four bills on April 26th, and the full House advanced all four pieces of legislation through Second Consideration on May 3rd.
More information about gun violence in Pennsylvania can be found at CeaseFirePA.org.
As the Commonwealth’s leading gun violence prevention organization, CeaseFirePA Action organizes communities closest to the issue, holds those in power accountable, and maximizes the strengths of every member in its broad coalition.