Briggs’ bill part of Gov. Wolf’s plan to curb gun violence

HARRISBURG, Aug. 16 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, today joined Gov. Tom Wolf in announcing an executive order to make sweeping changes to executive branch agencies to better target gun violence and calling on the legislature to act on commonsense gun safety legislation.

As outlined at a Capitol news conference today, Wolf is directing his administration to create new state offices focused on violence prevention and reduction, expand programs that promote safety, refocus departments on combatting gun violence as a public health crisis, and increase collaboration and data sharing between the public, government agencies and other states. The executive order is the result of months of work.

Among the legislation Wolf is calling on the legislature to pass is Briggs’ legislation (H.B. 525) that would require the safe storage of firearms in homes where children may be present. Failure to comply with this rule would result in a third-degree felony if it is used in a crime or if death or grievous injury is caused, or a summary offense (third-degree misdemeanor if a second or subsequent offense) if a child is simply found in unlawful possession of a firearm.

“Too often acts of gun violence, including suicide, could have been prevented with a few simple precautions,” Briggs said. “That’s why I introduced this commonsense legislation that will help keep guns out of the hands of Pennsylvania’s children. Those who fail to safely store their firearms are putting young lives at risk and should face consequences for their recklessness.”

Briggs added that gun violence in the United States takes many forms, including accidental shootings and suicides by firearms that have impacted thousands of children and families.

“I thank Governor Wolf for his leadership on this issue and partnering with me to push for safe storage laws and other sensible measures to reduce gun violence and keep people safe,” Briggs said. “Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting and hours-long standoff with an assault-style weapon involved in Philadelphia was a sobering reminder that we must continue to stand up and speak out, and to push for the safety of all our communities.”

In addition to his call for the legislature to pass safe storage legislation to reduce the number of accidental shootings, Wolf is asking lawmakers to pass an assault weapons ban, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law, and mandating universal background checks by the Pennsylvania State Police on all gun purchases.

Briggs is Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would consider the majority of gun-related legislation that is introduced in the House.