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CeaseFirePA, Democrat lawmakers call for gun safety legislation

Legislators and members of CeaseFirePA stand before a sign counting the days since the House passed gun safety legislation
Legislators and members of CeaseFirePA stand before a sign counting the days since the House passed gun safety legislation

A new mother, Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, D-Montgomery, tearfully recalled a letter written by a high schooler detailing the trauma that active shooter drills and concerns about gun violence have on children.

“I don’t want that for my daughter,” she said. “I don’t want that for anybody’s child.”

175 days ago, the state House passed legislation to combat the ongoing epidemic of gun violence.

One bill would enact Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which would temporarily remove someone’s firearms if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others, to prevent suicides, mass shootings and domestic violence homicides. The second would enact universal background checks.

Both bills passed the House, but have yet to be voted on in the Senate.

Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFirePA Education Fund, said it’s time to pass them.

“I’m tired of waiting for action on protecting our communities,” he said.

According to 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has the seventh most gun deaths in the United States.

Sen. Anthony Williams represents Philadelphia, which holds the highest rate of gun violence in the state.

He said the legislation is not a Second Amendment issue.

“We’re not talking about taking a legal gun owner, his gun or her gun, from her home,” Williams said.

Rep. Dan Frankel, D- Allegheny, is the co-chair of the PA Safe Caucus. He also represents the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, which was the site of the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in United States history.

He called on the Senate to vote on the legislation and protect Pennsylvanians.

“We must convince lawmakers that gun violence issues need not be partisan,” Frankel said. “Pennsylvanians deserve to go about their lives and their relationships without fear of gun violence.”

In a statement, Kate Flessner, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, said increased safety measures are of chief importance to the Majority Caucus.

“We remain steadfast in our ongoing support of law enforcement, leadership of school safety initiatives, and examination of ways to provide greater mental and behavioral health support to help protect our communities,” She said. “Pennsylvania currently has robust laws in place pertaining to guns, which must be enforced in every corner of our commonwealth.”

To commemorate the delay in the Senate taking up the bills, CeaseFirePA installed a clock in the East Wing counting the days since the House voted for the legislation.

Garber said he hopes the clock will one day be set down to zero.