Addressing gun violence must be a priority. So, we’re addressing it.
Gun violence does not need to be an inevitable symptom of Americanism.
Right now, though, it is.
Even as our country fights through a worldwide pandemic – and the health and economic concerns associated with it – gun violence remains an ever-present danger. This is particularly true of under-served areas, including Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has suffered a 33% increase in the number of shooting victims vs. this same time last year, according to Philadelphia Police Department crime statistics.
Here in Pennsylvania, we can do something about this. Those of us who have been elected to serve our great commonwealth have a duty to do something about this.
Yet, our legislature sits on its hands. A myriad of bipartisan bills designed to reduce gun violence and keep our communities safer – none of which come anywhere close to wholesale rejection of the 2nd Amendment, as fear mongers might have you believe – continue to languish in committee, not even deemed important enough to discuss, let alone receive votes. (See H.B. 1288, H.B. 2077, S.B. 88, H.B. 1075, S.B. 344, among many others. A full list of House and Senate bills languishing in committee is available through pahouse.com/sanchez/keeppasafe.)
But the tide is turning. As courageous members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus showed by taking over the Capitol House Floor in June – a move that ultimately sparked the passage of two social justice reform bills Governor Tom Wolf recently signed into law – change is happening now.
That is why we have introduced legislation that would establish a 72-hour waiting period for all firearm transfers in the state of Pennsylvania. Our bill, H.B. 2702, was officially introduced this week.
Study after study supports the fact that disrupting impulsive acts of violence and self-harm by establishing a waiting period such as this saves lives and provides the time necessary for individuals to gain perspective and seek necessary help.
By not taking action to prevent the creation of more victims, we are doing a disservice to those we are sworn to serve.
When Congress passed The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1994 – an act that imposed a five-day waiting period for handguns purchased from licensed dealers – it led to a 17% drop-off in gun homicides and a 6% reduction in gun suicides until the law was eliminated in 1998.
It worked then, and it can work again. The time is now for us to take action to protect our friends and families from the preventable tragedy of gun violence.