Philadelphia House Delegation calls on state, federal lawmakers to act, once and for all, on gun violence

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 5 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., chairman of the Philadelphia Delegation in the PA House of Representatives, along with delegation members, called on state and federal lawmakers Monday to act on sensible gun reform.

“The tragedies in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, have pained our hearts,” Dawkins said. “The news of more lives lost to gun violence is tragic. And not enacting sensible gun reform in Pennsylvania is a travesty.

Dawkins pointed to Gov. Tom Wolf’s statement on Sunday, in which the governor tweeted that we can ban assault weapons and institute stricter background checks, target white nationalism and promote tolerance and invest in mental health care to help those who are struggling; but we must not accept this violence as normal.

Dawkins said there are currently more than two dozen gun reform bills that could be voted on today that would make a difference in people’s lives. While we must fight back against hatred and bigotry, which seem central to the shootings this weekend, Dawkins said keeping guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm is something we can do right now.

“We are in what seems like an endless cycle of violence, killings, heartbreak, and then thoughts and prayers,” Dawkins said. “This cycle started long before El Paso and Dayton. And this cycle happens even when the shooting incidents don’t end up in national news headlines. Five people were gunned down July 28 in Philadelphia, one of them killed. Four people were shot in Uniontown, Pennsylvania the same day. Four people were shot in Clairton, Pennsylvania a week before that. The reality is that gun violence affects Pennsylvanians’ lives every day. The people of Pennsylvania are looking to their leaders to lead, not just to talk about this issue. We must stop this cycle by acting on measures that we know will save lives.”

In June, the House Philadelphia Delegation increased funding for Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Task Force by $2.5 million, which was a 57% increase over last year. The Gun Violence Task Force is a program within the attorney general’s office that 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 or sales, or felons who possess firearms. Members of the delegation supported these changes on a statewide level so that all 67 counties would be able to use every resource available to combat the epidemic of gun violence.

Dawkins, his own family affected by gun violence, said he knows the difficulty and senselessness of loss.

“While we can’t travel back in time and stop the killing that has already happened, we can take measures to prevent what has not yet happened by enacting smart gun reform,” Dawkins said. “We can save the victims of tomorrow’s gun violence by taking action today.”