Kenyatta, legislators call for special session to address gun violence

HARRISBURG, Aug. 7 – Following the recent deadly shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, state Reps. Kevin Boyle, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Danielle Friel Otten were joined by other legislators to call on Gov. Tom Wolf to convene a special session of the House and Senate to address gun violence in the commonwealth.

“From Ohio to Texas, California to Pennsylvania, one shooting is one too many. People should not have to fear for their lives by just walking out of their house, going to the store or attending an event in their community. These tragedies are beyond commonplace,” Boyle said. “The continuous lack of action and the thoughts and prayers mentality must be a thing of the past. We can no longer stand idly by and watch communities and families being torn apart by these senseless acts of violence. The time to act on commonsense gun reform in Pennsylvania must be now.”

Boyle added there is legislation pending in both the House and Senate that includes bills to ban assault weapons, close the loophole for gun background checks, and adopt Extreme Risk Protective Orders that equip families, law enforcement, and the courts to temporarily restrict access to guns for people at risk of violence to themselves or others.

Kenyatta stated that the ongoing gun violence in Pennsylvania, particularly in Philadelphia, has become a public epidemic.

Kenyatta said, “I’ve sat with way too many families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. People are dying because of our inaction. My heart is with the people of Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas; and it is also with the people of Philadelphia, who see gun violence on a near-daily basis; and it is with every person whose life has been affected by gun violence. We as lawmakers and leaders owe it to all those whom we can save who are not yet victims of gun violence, but who could be if we don’t act.”

Otten said, “The tragedies in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas happened just 13 hours apart. No other developed country in the world can say they’ve seen two mass shootings in a 24-hour window. Gun violence occurs in American cities and homes every single day. Children in our country die from gun violence at twice the rate of active-duty military members, and two thirds of gun violence incidents are suicides. We cannot normalize these happenings or ignore them just because they may not directly affect us. I urge Governor Wolf to call a special joint session immediately so we can address gun violence and vote on commonsense legislation to protect all Pennsylvanians.”

All three representatives are members of the PA SAFE Caucus, which recently sent Wolf a letter also calling for a special session. The PA SAFE Caucus is made up of 70 members of the PA House and Senate who believe in reducing all types of violence in society through adequate funding for mental health services; stronger tools for law enforcement; resources to curb the effects of addiction and illegal drugs; and solutions that reduce gun violence and promote public safety.