Select Page

Guns & Safety

Senate Democrats Fight for Common Sense Gun Reform

Senate Democrats will continue to fight for common sense gun reform, despite the lack of support from our colleagues across the aisle. We will continue our advocacy for investments in mental health care at the community level and in our schools, as well as funding for evidence-based programs that address community violence, including hate crimes.

Wear Orange is June 3-5!

What is Wear Orange? Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 – just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, they asked us to stand up, speak out, and Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence. Since then, orange has been the defining color of the gun violence prevention movement. The movement gains momentum when gun sense activists come together to fight for a future free from gun violence. Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015 — what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. Wear Orange Weekend is an opportunity for us to show the region and the country just how powerful we are. 

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 who have committed violent crimes.
  • Enforce stronger sentencing guidelines for people who are unlawfully carrying firearms.
  • Look at the disqualifying criminal convictions that prevent an individual from possessing a firearm and make 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.

National Gun Violence Survivors Vigil

February 1, 2022

Legislation

Senate Bill 413 and 414 – 3D-printed Firearms and Undetectable Firearms

This legislation will address the lack of safeguards in untraceable and undetectable firearms.  Without adequate safeguards in place, 3D-printed firearms and “ghost guns” are untraceable, undetectable, and readily available.

Senate Bill 217 – Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting

This legislation will require lost or stolen firearms be reported to local law enforcement authorities within 24 hours. Requiring lost or stolen firearms be reported to local law enforcement authorities would help to limit the availability of illegally obtained weapons and ultimately make our communities safer.

Senate Bill 761 – Establishing a 72-Hour Waiting Period for All Firearm Transfers

This legislation will establish a 72-hour waiting period for all firearm transfers in the Commonwealth. This is a companion measure to House Bill 1306, introduced by Representatives Sanchez and Zabel. The Giffords Law Center calls waiting periods for the possession of firearms “a commonsense way to prevent impulsive, volatile acts of gun violence.” By delaying immediate access to firearms, waiting periods can help prevent impulsive acts of firearm violence, including firearm homicides and suicides. Ten states, including New Jersey and Maryland, and the District of Columbia have waiting periods that apply to the purchase of at least some types of firearms.

Senate Bill 134 – Extreme Risk Protection Order

This legislation will establish a system in our Commonwealth for the implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO).  An Extreme Risk Protection Order grants family members and law enforcement the ability to petition a court to temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual is a threatening harm to 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.

Senate Bill 226 – Requiring a Firearms Safety or Training Course as a Condition of Obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit

This legislation will amend the Uniform Firearms Act to require an individual to complete a firearms safety or training course as a condition of being issued a Concealed Carry Permit. It is based on a similar requirement in the State of Florida.

Senate Bill 238 – Pennsylvania Center for Gun Violence Research

This legislation will establish a research center for gun violence in the Commonwealth. The Center for Gun Violence’s mission will be to conduct independent academic research on gun violence and provide policymakers with scientific evidence to develop sound, nonpartisan gun violence prevention policies and programs. The research center will be housed at a university located in the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 239 – Prohibiting Weapons in Public Parks

This legislation will prohibit firearms or other dangerous weapons in public recreation areas. It is mirrored after current provisions of law which prohibit the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapons in court facilities and on school property, would make it a crime to possesses a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a public recreation area. A public recreation area would be defined as a park, recreation center or pool owned or operated by a political subdivision.

Senate Bill 598 – Local Regulation of Firearms

This legislation will allow political subdivisions, by ordinance, the ability to restrict the presence and use of firearms at properties and facilities they own or operate. It will only apply if a political subdivision elects to restrict the presence or use of firearms and posts public notices of such restrictions at every public entrance to the facility or property. This legislation will bolster the freedom of local governments and help to keep all Commonwealth residents safe without impeding on Second Amendment rights.

Senate Bill 632 – Checking-In of Firearms in Municipal Buildings

This legislation will require firearms to be checked in and safely stored at municipal buildings in the Commonwealth.  Similar to the laws pertaining to courthouses, any buildings which house municipal administrative offices would have to provide a check-in location in which lawful firearms would be safely stored and then returned to the owner upon leaving the building. The purpose of this legislation is not in any way geared toward impeding on the rights of individuals to legally possess and carry firearms in our state, but more to extend a practical and purposeful regulation of firearms in our local government centers. 

Senate Bill 670 - Gun Violence Prevention

This legislation will create the Violence Intervention Program (“VIP”), a competitive grant program through the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency for municipalities disproportionately impacted by violence and community-based organizations that serve them. VIP Grants will be used to support, expand and replicate proven and effective community-based violence reduction initiatives primarily focused on providing violence intervention services to relatively small groups within a grantee’s community who are identified at the highest risk of perpetrating or being victimized by violence. Eligible applicants will demonstrate evidence indicating the propose violence reduction initiative likely would reduce gun and group-related violence. Grant awards will depend on the scope of the grant proposal and the applicant’s demonstrated need for resources. VIP Grants shall be awarded from a fund of $30 million for a duration of three years.

Senate Bill 855 – Firearms Safety Training

This legislation will ensure that an individual receives proper training prior to purchasing or receiving their first firearm. It will require that first time firearm owners receive training in areas of safe handling and storage of firearms, suicide awareness, child access awareness, domestic violence awareness, road rage awareness and prevention and safe interaction with law enforcement while carrying a firearm.

Senate Bill 1253 – Permit to Purchase

This legislation will require individuals to obtain a firearm eligibility license prior to purchasing a gun. This legislation is a direct response to the devastating gun violence that plagues our Commonwealth. It will create a new firearm eligibility license in Title 18 (Crimes Code). The application for the license would be similar to a license to carry: on a prescribed form by the State Police, to the Sheriff or Chief of Police (in Philadelphia).

 

Senate Bill 581 & 582 – 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.

SB 582 – This bill would require gun owners to safely store firearms if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm lives in the owner’s residence.

SB 581 – This bill would require gun owners to safely store firearms when not under direct control of the owner.

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.

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.

Senate Resolution 223 – Gun Violence Survivors Week 2022

This resolution recognizes the first week of February 2022 as “Gun Violence Survivors Week” in Pennsylvania.

Senate Resolution 304 – Gun Violence Awareness Month

This resolution recognizes June 2022 as “Gun Violence Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

Did you Know?

Our Members at Work

When Will Leaders Act on Guns?

When Will Leaders Act on Guns?

Op-ed by Senator Wayne Fontana  This weekend, our country will be “celebrating” Memorial Day. A day to honor those who have died in our nation’s wars. At the same time, our country will also be mourning the innocent young lives lost because they were ruthlessly...

read more

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.  


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