If you have attended any of my 86 town halls, you may have heard me say that “if there was a corner on genius in Harrisburg, the state would have few serious problems.” Well, Harrisburg has no “corner on genius” as evidenced by the continuing and maddening issue of gun violence in Philadelphia.
Gun laws are regulated by the state and when efforts have been made locally to enact gun control legislation, the General Assembly has introduced legislation to pre-empt such efforts. For Philadelphians, gun violence is real, and has in many instances taken lives, and in other instances, altered lives irrevocably.
In April of 2018, the PA House Judiciary Committee held a series of six meetings on the topic of public safety and gun laws and gun violence. At that time, at least 10 pieces of legislation had been introduced on matters such as universal background checks and banning assault weapons.
In our current legislative session similar legislation has been re-introduced. I urge you to email or call the offices of the majority and minority chairs of the PA House Judiciary Committee to ask that hearings be scheduled for pending gun safety legislation.
- Majority chair Rob Kauffman. Call 717-705-2004 or email repkauffman.com/contact.
- Minority chair Tim Briggs. Call 717-705-7011 or email pahouse.com/Briggs/contact.
One encouraging note is that the Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly successfully increased funding by $2.5 million for Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Task Force. This program operates within the office of the Attorney General. Last year, when the task force was initiated, it was funded at $4.378 million.
The Gun Violence Task Force targets gun traffickers and gets illegal guns off the street in Philadelphia. The attorney general has also been granted the ability to prosecute straw purchases (a straw purchaser is a person with a clean background who purchases firearms specifically on behalf of a person prohibited from purchasing a firearm) or sales, or felons who possess firearms.
Pam testifies before PA House Judiciary Committee (April 2018)
As this article is being written, we have experienced yet another shooting of 7 individuals at a playground in the Overbrook section of the city. This summer has brought many instances of gun related violence to our neighborhoods.
The issue of gun violence is complex and perplexing. Removing illegal guns from the street and providing young people with opportunities, basic education and jobs could be part of the solution. I believe a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy needs to include positive role modeling, support for parents that are dealing with troubled children, and the opportunity to interact with currently incarcerated men in real time to understand the consequences of making decisions regarding the use of guns.
I am interested in your thoughts about solutions and policy initiatives that could curb or ideally stem the tide of this public health crisis. Your thoughts and ideas are needed. Please email me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net, attend one of my monthly town hall meetings, stop me as I am out and about in the District or call my office at 215-482-8726.
Together we can make our neighborhoods a safer place for everyone to live, work and play.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Concerns? Make your voice heard by visiting my office at 6511 Ridge Avenue or calling (215) 482-8726. Walk-ins always welcome.