For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2023

For More Information: 
Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA Education Fund, (267) 515-1220, 


Congress Must Act to Keep Kids Safe this School Year


Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and local advocates call for a Federal Assault Weapons Ban


PHILADELPHIA — This time of year, 1.7 million Pennsylvania children and teenagers are returning to school. They will take a break from learning algebra and discussing literature to receive instruction on how to barricade doors and stay alive if an active shooter invades their school – like the one who took the lives of 21 kids and teachers in Uvalde just over a year ago.

U.S. Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5) and Dwight Evans (PA-3), CeaseFirePA Education Fund, educators, pediatricians, and local youth joined together today in front of Philadelphia City Hall to call on Congress to prioritize real solutions to this crisis, like an assault weapons ban, instead of ineffective “solutions” like arming teachers, expanding armed security in schools, or encouraging students to wear bulletproof backpacks.

“Our children should learn and have fun with friends. Our teachers should focus on helping them grow. And our elected officials should keep them safe,” said Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA Education Fund’s Executive Director. “Congress must put our kids’ safety first this fall by banning assault weapons and keeping firearms from dangerous individuals.”

U.S. Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon and Dwight Evans are cosponsoring the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023, which would prohibit the sale of these weapons that are now used in the majority of mass shootings.

Congresswoman Scanlon also plans to introduce the Stopping the Fraudulent Sales of Firearms Act. This bill would crack down on deceptive online sales practices that make it possible to evade existing federal law and buy a firearm without a background check–even if you are under age 18. 

“Unfortunately, we have seen that with the start of another school year, children’s excitement about teacher assignments and new classmates has already been overshadowed by lockdowns and gun violence. Our kids should be learning their ABCs, not traumatized by active shooter drills. Students, educators, and parents are scared, and Americans across the country are demanding change,” said Rep. Scanlon. “We don’t have to live like this – and we shouldn’t. Our children know as well as we do that we must act. I’m ready to pass universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and other commonsense, constitutional gun safety policies that will save lives and give our kids a brighter future.”

Assault weapons fire bullets with four times the velocity of a handgun, causing more damage, especially to children’s bodies. It’s why most school shooters use them. 

“The worst part of a doctor’s job is telling parents we can’t save their child – and after the devastation of an AR-15, that is almost always the news we must deliver,” said Dr. Vivek Ashok, a pediatrician who sits on the board of the American Academy of Pediatrics Pennsylvania Chapter. “ But, outside the hospital, I can do something. That’s why I’m standing here urging Congress to help doctors out by banning assault weapons.”

“This nation’s gun violence crisis continues unfettered, and the horror of gun violence continues to permeate our lives. The daily impacts in the city we know and love are devastating, and gun violence robs us of so much. Children should be able to play outside, neighbors should be able to come together for a block party, and seniors should be able to take transit to go to the doctor without fear,” said Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. “It is past time for substantive action around unchecked access to firearms. We cannot continue to live and die this way.”



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.



Facing the truth about gun violence in PA