Guns & Safety
Senate Democrats Kick Off National Gun Violence Prevention Month
June 5, 2023
Every Pennsylvanian deserves to live a life free from gun violence. To achieve this, we must:
Ban Assault Weapons
We must prohibit ownership of assault weapons such as the AR-15, including its high capacity ammunition feeding devices, and other accessories, that have become the tool of choice in mass murders.
Extreme Risk Protections
Implementation of legislation to allow for courts to order public protection orders if a person is demonstrating dangerous mental health characteristics would provide much needed protection to the public. 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.
Safe Storage Requirements
Mental Health in Schools
Recognizing the particular vulnerability that exists in our schools, we propose a new requirement that each school must provide school psychologists, school counselors, and school social workers to meet the mental health needs of their students. Offering these services will go a long way toward intervening with students that might commit the worst violence and to greatly improve school climate and student performance.
Universal Background Checks
Student March for Gun Safety
A rally against gun violence brought 150 Philadelphia students to Harrisburg, where they marched to the Capitol to call for more gun control laws. The Forget Me Knot program is based out of Philadelphia and provides job training, mentorship, and educational resources for at-risk youth impacted by things like poverty and abuse.
More than 200 students and adults marched and rallied on the steps of the Pennsylvania capital. Senator Sharif Street hosted the rally.
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.
3D-printed Firearms and Undetectable Firearms
Senate Bill 48
This legislation would ensure 3D-printed firearms are subject to the Uniform Firearm Act and would ensure a 3D-printed firearm is considered a firearm for purposes of Title 18. In addition, the legislation would prohibit anyone from printing a firearm without a license from the Federal Government to manufacture firearms.
3D-printed Firearms and Undetectable Firearms
Senate Bill 49
This legislation would amend the Uniform Firearm Act to make it crystal clear that an undetectable firearm or a “ghost gun” is a firearm. From 2019 to 2020, the number of recovered ghost guns in the City of Philadelphia jumped from 95 to 250. In 2021, 571 ghost guns were recovered, more than double the previous year. Estimates from the Philadelphia Police Department expect the 2022 numbers to continue to climb through the end of 2022.
Prohibiting Weapons in Public Parks
Senate Bill 53
This legislation would prohibit firearms or other dangerous weapons in public recreation areas. The legislation, which 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.
Requiring a Firearms Safety or Training Course as a Condition of Obtaining a Concealed Carry Permit
Senate Bill 56
This legislation would require an individual to complete a firearms safety or training course as a condition of being issued a Concealed Carry Permit. This legislation is based on a similar requirement in the State of Florida.
Adding Additional Disqualifying Criminal Convictions to the Uniform Firearms Act
Senate Bill 57
This legislation would expand the list of criminal convictions that disqualify a person from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, selling or transferring a firearm. A review of current law reveals that convictions for a number of serious crimes, including crimes of violence, sex crimes, and crimes against children, do not disqualify a person from possessing a firearm.
Pennsylvania Center for Gun Violence Research
Senate Bill 59
This legislation would create a Pennsylvania Center for Gun Violence Research. Under this legislation, a research center for gun violence will be established 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. The university that will host the research center will be selected by a review committee after a solicitation for request for proposals.
Closing the Gap on Background Checks for Private Long Gun Sales
Senate Bill 60
This legislation would eliminate 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. This legislation would remove the different background check requirements based off barrel length and require all firearm sales, regardless of the barrel length, be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or county sheriff.
Permit to Purchase
Senate Bill 65
This legislation would require an individual to obtain a firearm eligibility license prior to purchasing a gun. This legislation is a direct response to the devastating gun violence that continues to plague our Commonwealth.
Assault Weapons Ban
Senate Bill 200
This legislation would enact an assault weapons ban in Pennsylvania. Our 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.
Specifically, our bill will broaden the scoop of what the state classifies as assault weapons including banning more than 150 gun models. The legislation will also ban the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, as well as provide for a voluntary buy-back program for individuals that currently own firearms that would now fall under this legislation.
Extreme Risk Protection Order
Senate Bill 204
This legislation would establish a system in our Commonwealth for the implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders. An ERPO 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.
Divestiture and Investment Prohibition from Assault Weapon Manufacturers
Senate Bill 214
This legislation would prohibit future investments by the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS), the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System (PMRS), and the State Treasurer in any company that manufactures assault weapons (such as the AR-15), large capacity ammunition feeding devices, or assault weapon accessories (such as bump stocks).
Liability on Sales or Transfers of Firearms
Senate Bill 220
This legislation would amend the Uniform Firearms Act (“UFA”) to impose strict civil and criminal liability on any person, licensed importer, licensed dealer or licensed manufacturer who knowingly and intentionally sells, delivers or transfers a firearm in violation of the UFA if that gun is subsequently used in a crime or attempted crime. Current law imposes liability only where the seller has “reason to believe” the firearm will be used in a crime or attempted crime.
Firearms Safety Training
Senate Bill 281
This legislation would 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.
Repealing Pennsylvania's "Stand Your Ground" Law
Senate Bill 424
This legislation would re-establish its “Duty to Retreat” law, which states that a person facing a dangerous threat outside of their home must retreat or try to resolve the situation by non-violent means if it’s safe to do so, with the use of force only legally available as a last resort. “Stand Your Ground” laws encourage gun violence. As such, it is time that we repeal “Stand Your Ground” here in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 427
This legislation would require gun owners to safely store firearms when not under direct control of the owner. 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.
Senate Bill 431
This legislation would require gun owners to safely store firearms if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm lives in the owner’s residence. 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.
Senate Bill 457
This legislation would require safe storage of firearms when children are present in the home. Failure to comply with this requirement would result in a felony of the third degree if the firearm is used in a crime, or if death or grievous injury is caused, or a summary offense (misdemeanor of the third degree if second or subsequent offense) if a child is found in unlawful possession of a firearm. In 2022 there were at least 321 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 143 deaths and 188 injuries nationally.
Lost & Stolen Guns
Senate Bill 461
This legislation would 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.
Checking-In of Firearms in Municipal Buildings
Senate Bill 536
This legislation would 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.
Establishing a 72-Hour Waiting Period for All Firearm Transfers
Senate Bill 637
This legislation establishes a 72-hour waiting period for all firearm transfers in the Commonwealth. This is a companion measure to House Bill 1306 of last session.
Research has shown that waiting period laws reduce both suicides and violent crime. Many studies suggest that most suicide survivors, for example, contemplated their actions for only a brief period of time—often less than 24 hours—before making a suicide attempt. More than 60 percent of firearm deaths are suicides; reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal means is an important part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention.
Voluntary Do-Not-Sell Firearm Registry
Senate Bill 641
This legislation will create a Do-Not-Sell Firearm Registry. The purpose of this voluntary registry is to reduce self-harm and suicides in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislation is modeled on Do-Not-Sell Firearm Registry laws enacted in the state of Washington and Commonwealth of Virginia. Similar legislation has been introduced in California, Louisiana, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Reasonable and Responsible Firearm Purchasing Rules
Senate Bill 672
This legislation will prohibit the sale or possession of assault weapons for individuals under the age of 21. Members of the armed services would be exempt from this law. This legislation would bring Pennsylvania gun laws in line with Federal law regarding the minimum age of purchasing handguns and would promote safer and more responsible firearm ownership and is a companion bill to Representative Pete Schweyer’s House Bill 717 of the 2021-22 Session.
Senate Resolution 23 – Gun Violence Survivors Week 2023
This resolution would recognize the first week of February 2023 as “Gun Violence Survivors Week” in Pennsylvania.
Enough is Enough
Did you Know?
Wear Orange is June 2-4!
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.
Our Members at Work
HARRISBURG – June 12, 2022 – Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa issued the following statement on today’s announcement on an agreement by the US Senate on a proposed deal to address gun violence: “I am pleased that the United States Senate has...
BUCKS COUNTY — June 10, 2022 − In the wake of several mass shootings in recent weeks, State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) will be introducing a bill banning military-style assault weapons in Pennsylvania. “Military-style weapons have no place in civilian society,”...
Harrisburg, PA – June 7, 2022 – Today, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats filed six discharge resolutions in an effort to move anti-gun violence and reform legislation to the floor of the State Senate for a vote. While Senate Republicans have moved bills that would make...
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 gun down by an 18-year-old mad man in Uvalde, Texas. When and why has the United States become so tolerant of this sickening violence?
Senate Democrats Call on Republicans to Immediately Prioritize Gun Violence Prevention Legislation and Appropriations
HARRISBURG – May 25, 2022 – Today, Pennsylvania Senate Democrats wrote the following letter to Republican leaders in response to rampant gun violence and mass shootings that have become too common in the United States. Just this year, 215 mass shootings have...
Harrisburg, Pa. – May 25, 2022 – Today, State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) released the following statement in response to the massacres at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, N.Y. this month:...
HARRISBURG – May 25, 2022 – Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa issued the following statement on the tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas: “As we find our nation amid another senseless tragedy at the hands of gun violence, our...
PHILADELPHIA – May 11, 2022 – Today, State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) released the following statement in response to a virtual meeting with Mayor Jim Kenney (D- Philadelphia): “On 18 April, I led a sit-in with advocates outside of Mayor...
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
Lt. Col. Scott Price
Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Professional Responsibility – Pennsylvania State Police
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
State Director, National Rifle Association of America
Second Amendment Advocate
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.