Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Governor Tom Wolf today joined state Senator Anthony H. Williams, other state and local officials, and community leaders to discuss coordinated efforts to reduce gun violence in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth.
“We need to do more to support our communities and to end the crisis of gun violence. Building a coordinated response is a critical step, so I thank Sen. Williams for leading this discussion today,” said Gov. Wolf. “Together, we can create real solutions and better coordinate getting the tools and resources needed to reduce gun violence to the places that need it most.”
The governor and officials today met at a roundtable discussion, hosted by Williams, at the West Philadelphia YMCA to address ways to coordinate efforts at the state and local levels to ensure communities have resources they need to combat gun violence.
“It’s long past time to address gun violence in Philadelphia. No one, especially innocent children, should have to live in constant fear that at any moment they could die resulting from gun violence,” Williams said. “I am grateful for the participation we had in this meeting today by so many, including the Governor and Attorney General. We have the power to restore our communities and save lives – but we must act now and we must act together.”
Nearly three quarters of homicides in Pennsylvania involve firearms and more than half of all suicides in Pennsylvania involve firearms.
“The neighborhood where we gathered today has seen, firsthand, the devastating toll of gun violence in recent weeks,” Gov. Wolf said. “There are numerous steps we are taking now and can take further at the state and local level to comprehensively address and reduce gun violence and to build lasting change. We need to partner with communities and implement a coordinated response at all levels. My administration is committed to being a part of the solution.”
Addressing the scourge of gun violence is a top priority for Governor Wolf. In 2019, he signed an Executive Order creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and a Special Council on Gun Violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, as well as the Division of Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
As a result of recommendations of the council, PCCD has prioritized available funding to support direct, multi-year grants to organizations implementing gun violence prevention/intervention models. Most recently, in February, $3.1 million in Community Violence Prevention/Reduction grants were awarded to specifically target gun violence in Pennsylvania, with most of the awards going to support efforts in Philadelphia. This effort builds on the $3.8 million that has been released in the previous two years to support efforts to reduce gun violence throughout Pennsylvania.
The governor has also called on the General Assembly to take up safe storage legislation to reduce the number of shootings by people who should not have access to guns, including accidental shootings by children; to tighten reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns; to swiftly pass the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law; and to pursue state-level universal background checks on all gun purchases.
Governor Wolf recently participated in a CeaseFire PA Day of Advocacy to call for a reduction in gun violence and support the organization’s commonsense legislative solutions.