PA SAFE Caucus calls for special joint legislative session to address gun violence, extremism

Fellow legislators; ‘The time for action is now. We cannot continue to stand aside’

HARRISBURG, Aug. 6 – In the wake of two more horrific mass shootings in America, members of the PA Safe Caucus, a bicameral body dedicated to reducing gun violence, called on legislative leaders in the state House and Senate to hold  a special joint session of the legislature to address the epidemic of gun violence, extremism and white supremacy that resulted in two more mass shootings in one weekend. The recent shootings follow a year in which mass shootings occurred in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Allentown.

“Our communities, like communities across the country, are in mourning because gun violence — in schools, streets, churches and synagogues, workplaces, festivals, concerts, and shopping centers— has led to more deaths and more fear,”  said House PA Safe Caucus co-chair Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “While we keep the communities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio in our hearts, we must also focus on the realities that predated and enabled these atrocities.”

In a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, the chairs of the PA SAFE Caucus called for a special session to respond to the recent mass shootings. Legislation pending in the House and Senate include bills to ban assault weapons, address access to guns for people at risk of violence to self or others, and close the loophole for gun background checks, among others.

“The vast majority of residents are calling for action on legislation to prevent gun violence, but their voices are being stifled by legislative leaders who refuse to bring these bills up for a vote in Harrisburg,” said PA Safe Caucus co-chair Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-10).  “It is our moral duty to come together in a special session this fall and make these voices heard by enacting commonsense gun safety measures.”

Members of the PA SAFE Caucus noted that almost every public opinion poll conducted shows that the majority of Americans support mandatory background checks on gun purchases, as well as other safety legislation.

“Our hearts ache for the victims of the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas. How many more lives must be lost before we enact gun reform? The number of incidences resulting in gun violence is way out of hand,” said state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., and co-chair of the House caucus. “The thoughts and prayers rhetoric needs to stop. We need to protect our communities and prevent further bloodshed in this country.”

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.