PA SAFE Caucus decries Judicial legislative agenda, calls for substantive action on gun-safety legislation

Judiciary meeting a missed opportunity to address the public health crisis of gun violence

HARRISBURG, Sept 23 – Ahead of a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Tuesday that plans to vote out, with little discussion and no testimony, legislation that by and large would work to loosen Pennsylvania’s already inadequate firearm safety laws, the PA SAFE Caucus today called on Republican leaders to take up genuine gun safety legislation instead of the announced slate of obscure and unstudied bills scheduled for a vote. 

"Gun violence is preventable, and it's mystifying that our legislature’s Republican leadership stands by acting like we're helpless. Public health experts largely agree on at least half a dozen policies that could start saving lives tomorrow," said Rep. Dan Frankel, who co-chairs the PA SAFE Caucus. "How can none of those bills be on this list?"

“The only thing worse than doing nothing as the death rate continues to climb is pretending to do something,” said Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, who also co-chairs the bicameral caucus. “We will not stop pushing until we can honestly say we’ve done all we can to end gun violence and keep our constituents safe.” 

The Judiciary Committee meeting in the House come amid a deepening debate on the place of firearms in American society. In addition to the meeting in the House, state Senate leaders have convened two-days of firearms related hearings in that chamber, although no specific legislation has been prioritized at this point.

"Last month, following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, I wrote Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Lisa Baker requesting that these hearings focus on the commonsense gun safety measures currently before the committee -- bills like universal background checks and safe storage, and red flag laws -- all of which have the support of a majority of Pennsylvanians," Sen. Steve Santarsiero said.  

Frankel said polling has consistently shown that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians support universal background checks and legislation that would provide a way for law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from the possession of individuals in crisis, all of which has been introduced in the House but are awaiting action. 

More Pennsylvanians are killed by gun violence each year than car accidents. In April, the first statewide gun safety measure to pass in decades, designed to disarm domestic abusers, became law.