Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, surpassed 500 recorded homicides in 2021. This is the highest recorded number of homicides in the city’s history, with the total reaching 506 as of November 28, with more than a month left of the year.
In the midst of this deadly milestone, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania legislature have passed harmful bills that would further jeopardize the safety of Pennsylvania’s communities, especially in cities like Philadelphia. Earlier this month, the legislature passed two dangerous bills: SB 565, which would would allow carry of concealed loaded handguns in public places without a permit, and; SB 448, which would expand Pennsylvania’s already restrictive preemption law to punish localities for attempting to enact common-sense public safety measures in their communities. SB 565 is currently awaiting Governor Tom Wolf’s veto.
Permitless carry laws take away a critical tool that law enforcement uses to differentiate between responsible gun owners and those who should not be able to carry a loaded weapon in public. States that have weakened their firearm permitting system by adopting permitless carry have experienced an 11 percent increase in handgun homicide rates and a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime rates. Punitive preemption laws lay the groundwork for localities and taxpayers to be further harmed by the effects of gun violence, while opening the door for out-of-state gun lobby interests to line their own pockets.
At the same time, state lawmakers have neglected to consider important gun safety measures that would take transformative steps toward reducing gun violence and addressing Pennsylvania’s lax gun laws, such as bills to require that gun owners in the state securely store their firearms in their homes away from the access of children and teens and to require handgun purchasers to apply for and receive a qualified purchaser card, or purchase permit.
Others have been working to address the gun violence crisis. Governor Wolf has worked with nearby states, including an agreement with the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to share gun crime data across state lines. Additionally, In September of 2021, Attorney General Josh Shapiro worked with Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck to break up a ghost gun trafficking ring between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, as part of the PA/NJ Gun Trafficking Initiative. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kennedy recently called on the state to allow municipalities to take action against gun violence if the legislature continued to ignore the crisis. Cities across Pennsylvania also have the opportunity to utilize funds from the American Rescue Plan to combat gun violence in their communities.
If you would like to speak to a Pennsylvania Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.