Gun violence is a public health epidemic and continuing to carry on as if things are business is usual is irresponsible. Remaining silent and accepting inaction by our state and federal government perpetuates the culture of violence that we are now living in.
We need policy and change. We need to ensure that everyone, in every community can feel safe in the places they live, work, shop, and attend to have fun.
There are common-sense reforms I support that our General Assembly could pass right now if we had the support and the votes.
- Universal background checks are a necessity. While some places are responsible and run background checks on those seeking to purchase firearms, there are still loopholes that allow these checks to be hastily done or not completed at all. When it comes to purchasing deadly weapons, no corners should be cut.
Senate Bill 88 would require universal background checks to follow a system that thorough and in-depth for every potential purchase of a firearm.
- Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) save lives. They allow for a legal process to keep guns out of the hands of people who may temporarily be at risk of hurting themselves or others. In Pennsylvania there are 1,500-gun deaths every year. 62 percent of these are suicide.
Senate Bill 90 would implement ERPOs that allow a family member to petition a judge to have guns temporarily taken away from a person who is at risk of committing a violent act with a firearm.
- Additional disqualifying convictions added to the Uniform Firearms Act (UFA) is a must. Violent crimes, sex crimes, and crimes against children currently do not disqualify a person from possessing a firearm.
Senate Bill 198 would disqualify those who have committed crimes such as sexual assault, terroristic threats, and human trafficking from owning a firearm.
- We must also amend the UFA to impose strict civil and criminal liability on any person who knowingly sells, delivers or transfers a firearm in violation of the UFA if that gun is subsequently used in a crime. Current law imposes liability only where the seller has “reason to believe” the firearm will be used in a crime or attempted crime.
Senate Bill 197 will close this loophole.
- A statewide firearms registry needs to be implemented and frequently updated. While some tragedies have resulted from the legal purchase of firearms, many more crimes are committed each day with stolen, lost or otherwise illegal guns.
Senate Bill 290 would establish a statewide registry and would make essential information available to law enforcement for purposes of tracing crime, as well as reducing illegal firearms sales by creating owner accountability.
- Military-grade weapons have no place in civilian life and are unnecessary for self-defense. These kinds of firearms and high capacity magazines were made to kill people quickly and efficiently. There is no reason for these weapons to be available in our communities.
Senate Bill 292 would ban military-grade assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
- Local and county governments must be allowed to keep their residents safe. Pennsylvania is full of diverse areas that have completely different local elected officials and local laws. Gun violence affects various areas of our Commonwealth in different ways.
Senate Bill 625 would give more discretion to local and county governments the right to regulate firearms within the communities they directly govern.
The necessary response to gun violence is well beyond “thoughts & prayers.” We cannot continue to let the pain of the moment fade into the past. This epidemic requires the utmost attention and urgent action.
It is time to act, however we cannot do it alone.
We need a majority in both chambers.
Please call Speaker Turzai [(412) 369-2230] and President Pro Temp Scarnati [(717) 787-7084] and urge them to bring these common-sense, bipartisan supported reforms to the floor of their respective chambers for a vote.