Johnson-Harrell, Policy Committee meet to discuss gun violence as a public health epidemic

PHILADELPHIA, July 23 – State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on Gun Violence as a Public Health Epidemic.  

Johnson-Harrell requested the hearing to discuss what more the state can do to reduce gun violence deaths and provide stronger support for community activists. Testifiers and lawmakers looked at potential solutions to the violence affecting Philadelphia. Johnson-Harrell was joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.

“Today’s testifiers provided a lot of very useful insight for tackling the gun violence problem in Philadelphia and I’m thankful for their input,” Johnson-Harrell said. “When we have open dialogue about the causes and drivers of these issues, we can better craft solutions that will ensure safer streets for our families. In the city, gun violence is on the rise and it’s reaching a boiling point. We need to make sure that local officials and community organizers are fully educated and equipped to solve this problem.”

Sturla added: “No one should feel unsafe where they live. We need to make sure we’re protecting the most vulnerable among us and that includes children who are living in neighborhoods rife with gun violence.”

The committee heard testimony from Lawrence Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney; Richard Ross, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department; Vanessa Garrett-Harley, Deputy Managing Director for Children Justice & Public Safety; Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA; Dr. Amy Goldberg, Director of Trauma at Temple University Hospital; Joel Fine, Director of Advocacy and Health Policy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Leslie Lieberman, Senior Director of Special Initiatives and Consulting for The Health Federation of Philadelphia; Louisa Aviles, Director of Group Violence Intervention at the National Network for Safe Communities; and Donte Johnson, Homicide Co-Victim/Co-Founder of The CHARLES Foundation.    

The meeting was one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, healthcare access, quality schools and jobs training, and a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at


Hearing testimony and video will be available at