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Guns & Safety

Senate Democrats Call for Common Sense Gun Control

The issue of gun violence and safety is complicated and needs a multi-pronged set of solutions requiring bi-partisanship. All parties must come to the table with an open mind. Doing nothing because it’s complicated, or you’re adverse to one element of the package of solutions can no longer be our answer. We must compromise and act on many fronts to make a difference and begin to turn this crisis around. There are no easy solutions, but the tide is turning in favor of addressing the issue.

We need:

Penalties and Prevention

  • Provide stronger protections to the public from people that have committed violent crimes.
  • Enforce stronger sentencing guidelines for people that are unlawfully carrying firearms.
  • Look at the disqualifying criminal convictions that prevent an individual from possession a firearm and making sure that list is comprehensive and complete.
  • Implement universal background checks for all firearms, regardless of length of barrel.

Mental Health and Community Connections

  • Support the implementation of court ordered public protection orders if a person is demonstrating dangerous mental health characteristics.
    → Known as Extreme Risk Protection, such an order would temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that a person is threatening to harm themselves or others. The person subject to that order must surrender their guns to police and will not be able to buy, sell, or possess other firearms with a judge determining the time frame of this suspension not to exceed one year.
  • Provide in-school counseling and mental health services to students and create early intervention opportunities.
    → Placing skilled, trained mental health counselors in schools to identify children facing problems and acting to treat them, could be the difference in preventing violent situations later.
  • Stop paying lip service to the issues surrounding mental health but rather begin investing in solutions.

School and Community Safety Programs

  • Continue investing in security.
    → The General Assembly adopted Act 44 in June of 2018 which provided $60 million to schools as grants to invest in school infrastructure and mental health professionals to improve safety and security. This investment is being driven by the School Safety and Security Committee, which is also charged with providing schools guidance on best practices for using school safety assessments and certifying vendors for schools to use to conduct the assessments.
    → Included in the Act was a dedicated funding stream to provide new money to municipalities, universities, and community organizations that are developing research and data driven programs that prevent community violence. Intervention on the ground will go a long way to reducing gun violence.

Firearm Restrictions

  • Prohibit the ownership of assault weapons, such as the AR-15, and high capacity ammunition feeding devices and other accessories.

Responsible Investments by Pennsylvania Retirement Funds

  • End the funding stream from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania and employee contributions for retirement that flows to manufacturers of assault weapons, large capacity ammunition clips, or gun accessories that may end up being used to kill school children, teachers, or anyone else.

Gov. Tom Wolf Signs Executive Order on Gun Violence

August 16, 2019: Governor Tom Wolf signs an executive order to make sweeping changes to executive branch agencies and programs to better target the public health crisis of gun violence. The executive order is the result of months of work by Governor Wolf and his administration to focus on substantive steps that can be taken to reduce gun violence and make communities safer. Governor Wolf was joined by Senators Jay Costa and Anthony H. Williams.  


Restrictions on the Sale and Purchase of Military Grade Weapons and Accessories

In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to put restrictions on the sale and purchase of military grade weapons and accessories.

According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a military grade weapon is defined as having the capacity to release a large amount of ammunition in a short amount of time all while the user keeps complete control of the weapon. Accessories to these weapons are added with the purpose of causing additional harm to the proposed target in a manner more efficient than before. Military grade ammunition can also be easily purchased, including body armor piercing bullets which are colloquially called “cop killers” on the streets. These accessories and others were made for no purpose other than taking the life of another human being.

Senate Bill 138 – Safe Storage of Firearms

Millions of children live in homes with easily accessible firearms. A 2018 study found that 4.6 million minors in the U.S. live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. In fact, most children know where their parents keep their guns — even if their parents think otherwise.

From 2005 to 2014, roughly 20,000 American minors were killed or seriously injured in accidental shootings; the majority of those killed in these tragic accidents were aged 12 or younger. Child access prevention (CAP) laws are an important tool for reducing these preventable shootings. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted child access prevention laws – Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.

Senate Bill 90 – Extreme Risk Protection Orders

This legislation that will add Pennsylvania to the growing list of states that utilize Extreme Risk Protection Orders. This life-saving policy can help protect our communities from mass shootings, firearm suicides and other acts of gun violence.

An Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”) provides a mechanism for law enforcement and loved ones to request a Court order to temporarily restrict an individual’s access to firearms when they clearly present a danger to themselves and others. All requests for an ERPO must be based on the observations and safety concerns of local police officers, family members or other loved ones, all of whom are seeking the Court’s help with the goal of preventing firearm tragedies.

Senate Bill 88 – Universal Background Checks for Firearms

This legislation eliminates most of the exceptions to the requirement of a background check prior to the purchase or transfer of a firearm. The close familial transfer exception to the background check requirements would remain under this legislation. Senate Bill 209 was the product of continuing work on this issue with various stakeholders.

Currently, the Crimes Code requires firearm sales be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or county sheriff. However, this provision is only applicable to short-barreled firearms. Long barrel firearms, such as semi-automatic rifles, are not currently subject to these restrictions. This legislation would remove this applicability provision and require all firearm sales, regardless of the barrel length, be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or county sheriff.

Senate Bill 254 – Assault Weapons Ban

This legislation would enact an assault weapons ban in Pennsylvania. This bill would mirror language that is very similar to what was enacted in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which is considered to be some of the toughest in the nation.

Under Pennsylvania law, both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are legal. There was a federal ban on these types of weapons nationwide which began in 1994. However, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 and the sunset provision was never renewed. For the 10 years that the injunction was in effect, it was illegal to manufacture the assault weapons for use by private citizens. The law also set a limit on high-capacity magazines – these could now carry no more than 10 bullets. However, any weapon or magazine that was manufactured before the law went into effect in 1994 was perfectly legal to own or resell.

Did you Know?

Our Members at Work

Senator Haywood Issues Gun Violence Prevention Grants Statement

Senator Haywood Issues Gun Violence Prevention Grants Statement

Harrisburg – February 27, 2020 – State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) released the following statement today announcing gun violence prevention grant legislation: “Gun violence is a tragedy across the Commonwealth. Everyone knows of someone affected...

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Judiciary Committee Hearing on Behavioral Health, Second Amendment Rights, and other Gun-Related Issues

September 24, 2019 | September 25, 2019

Part 1


Part 2 



Panel 1

Lt. Col. Scott Price
Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Professional Responsibility – Pennsylvania State Police 


Panel 2

Joshua Prince, Esq. – Additional Testimony
Chief Counsel – Firearms Industry Consulting Group


Panel 3

Adam Skaggs, Esq.
Chief Counsel/Policy Director – Giffords Law Center 


Panel 4

Honorable Fran Chardo
District Attorney – Dauphin County

Greg Rowe, Esq.
Director of Legislation and Policy – Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association

Lt. Col. Scott Price
Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Professional Responsibility – Pennsylvania State Police

Honorable Richard Keuerleber – Application for a license to carry firearms
Sheriff – York County 


Panel 5

Jen Pauliukonis
Director of State Affairs – Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence & Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Shira Goodman, Esq.
Executive Director – CeaseFire PA 


Panel 6

Marybeth Christiansen
State Chapter Lead – Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Pennsylvania

Kaegan Mays-Williams
Policy Counsel – EveryTown For Gun Safety


Panel 7

Dave Weber
State Director, National Rifle Association of America

Walt Gibson
Second Amendment Advocate



Panel 8

Kim Stolfer – Additional Testimony
President – Firearms Owners Against Crime

Val W. Finnell, MD, MPH
Pennsylvania Director – Gun Owners of America 


Panel 9

Andrew Morral
Senior Behavioral Scientist – RAND Corporation

In Remembrance

Senate Democrats Remember Victims of Gun Violence and Call for Action

Senate Democrats join Gov. Wolf and U.S. Senator Bob Casey for a bipartisan event in remembrance of the victims of all gun violence and as a call-for-action after a weekend of mass shootings and a continued deaf-ear response from federal and state lawmakers to take up stricter gun laws.

Gov. Wolf Hosts Bipartisan Remembrance of Victims and Call for Action Event Against Gun Violence at the Capitol