Senator Vincent Hughes and Senator Katie Muth

PHILADELPHIA October 30, 2023 – State Senator Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks), chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, today joined Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) to co-host a public hearing on the need for universal background checks for purchases of firearms in Pennsylvania.

The hearing, held at the Roxborough YMCA in Philadelphia, featured three panels of testimony that included several representatives from community and grassroots organizations, policy experts, medical professionals, and law enforcement.

“We have read so many heartbreaking stories and heard more today at our Policy Committee hearing about how gun violence is ripping our communities apart and claiming innocent lives,” Muth said. “Gun violence is an epidemic in the United States and we need all elected officials to work together on comprehensive and effective gun control measures that respect the Second Amendment but also address the risks associated with firearms – and we can start with Senator Hughes’ Senate Bill 60 on Universal Background Checks.”

The hearing featured discussion on Senator Hughes’ Senate Bill 60 which would expand background checks to all points of sale, regardless of barrel length, for all firearm purchases. Under current law, the purchases of handguns are subject to background checks at all points of sale while sales of long guns (e.g. rifles and shotguns) are not subject to background checks under private or gun show sales.  

“We’re here to give a voice to those who are in the fight with us to end gun violence,” said Senator Hughes. “The gun violence epidemic is terrorizing communities across Pennsylvania and we need to stop this madness. We need to make sure all possible solutions are operating at full throttle-  that includes changing gun violence laws in Pennsylvania and implementing a commonsense safeguard like universal background checks.”

In May, the House passed House Bill 714 by a 109-92 vote. Similar to Senate Bill 60, this bill would remove exemptions in current law regarding what firearms purchases are subject to background checks. The bill would also require that private sales of firearms have the same background check requirements as sales by manufacturers or dealers.

“Growing up in Philadelphia, I’ve had many friends get killed. Having my wife check on our kids every night before bed, to make sure they are still alive, just so you can sleep, changes the way you live each and every day,” Senator Sharif Street added. “Gun violence is trauma that has become normative for too many families in America, and Philadelphia. But there is nothing normal about regimented trauma. We must remain committed to pursuing every measure we can to keep our communities safe.”

Participants in the hearing included Chantay Love, co-founder and president of E.M.I.R. Healing Center; Sam Levy, Regional Legal Director, Everytown for Gun Safety; Gina Pelusi, Moms Demand Action; Brandon Flood, Deputy Director of Government Affairs, CeaseFire PA; Stanley Crawford, Founder, Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia; Scott Charles, Trauma Outreach Manager, Temple University Hospital; and Francis Healy, Deputy Commissioner for Offices of Professional Responsibility & Legal Affairs, Philadelphia Police Department 

All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at

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Panel 1: Grassroots Efforts

Panel 2: Medical Perspective

Panel 3: Law Enforcement Perspective