HARRISBURG – June 24, 2019 – Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus today jointly sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf requesting a disaster declaration for gun violence in the Commonwealth.
“We believe it is necessary to raise the public’s awareness of the massive loss of human life and the suffering inflicted on affected family, friends and neighbors where this tragedy is unfolding daily,” they wrote. “Just as you have signed six disaster declarations to provide every tool at the Commonwealth’s disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the death toll and impact from illegal guns should merit immediate and coordinated attention.”
Specifically, a disaster declaration could do the following:
- Establish a task force led by the Department of Health to create and implement a public health framework for addressing gun violence
- Establish a command center in the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to coordinate state and local law enforcement response
- Enhance the Joint-Local State Firearm Taskforce through additional personnel and funding to take illegal guns off the street
- Expand information gathering and sharing between all levels of law enforcement and community groups
- Increase law enforcement presence, both local and state, in targeted areas where gun violence is most prevalent
- Expedite and expand grants and other funding sources for community groups and nonprofit associations with a proven record of violence reduction and prevention
- Provide additional state resources for behavioral and mental health
- Bringing to bear the significant wealth of knowledge and experience in the Departments of Health and Human Services to provide de-escalation and de-confliction training throughout the community
- Require the Pennsylvania Department of Education provide training and professional development on trauma-informed education
The full letter is available here.