HARRISBURG, PA — Reps. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Craig Williams (R-Delaware) this week introduced legislation, House Bill 2275, to extend Act 58 of 2019, a bipartisan legislative effort that provides the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction over gun crime in Philadelphia.
Act 58 passed as a pilot program in 2019 and expired earlier in 2021.
“Even though the murder rate in Philadelphia rose to record levels, Attorney General Josh Shapiro refused to use this new tool to help us fight crime in Philadelphia,” White said. “Nonetheless, we’re extending the law to give Shapiro a second chance to do what is right as gun crime continues to rise. It’s clear the state must step in to protect the people of Philadelphia from their irresponsible district attorney, Larry Krasner, and that person is the attorney general of Pennsylvania.”
In 2021, Philadelphia recorded 561 murders and 2,332 shootings. The previous single-year high for homicide was 500 in 1990. The murder rate in 2022 is already on pace to eclipse last year’s record high.
“Attorney General Josh Shapiro has routinely blamed the General Assembly for violence in Philadelphia,” Williams said. “Yet when given authority to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia, he said expressly he would not use it. We intend to give him another chance to pitch into the fight.”
At the press conference, Williams also discussed his efforts to fund more prosecutors to fight gun crime. In 2021, Williams secured $1.5 million in the state budget to hire additional gun prosecutors in Philadelphia and Delaware counties.
“Under my plan, the new prosecutors would work as deputized federal prosecutors, exclusively prosecuting felon-in-possession crimes federally under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal program is called Project Safe Neighborhoods,” Williams said. “After my discussion last week with the secretary of the Budget, those funds have now been released to the two counties after applications were finally made.”
Project Safe Neighborhoods relies heavily on cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to protect the communities they serve.
“But when there is no cooperation, people lose their lives,” White said. “That’s why we must extend this law and demand Attorney General Josh Shapiro prosecute the law the way District Attorney Larry Krasner will not. Lives depend on it.”
“As gun violence continues to rise in the Southeast, this is truly an all-hands-on-deck moment,” Williams said. “With the release of Project Safe Neighborhoods funds from the state, we bring the independent prosecutorial discretion of the U.S. Department of Justice to bear. And with the reauthorization of the attorney general’s concurrent jurisdiction over gun crime, we bring yet another independent prosecutor to bear. Attorney General Shapiro is faced with a choice to fight gun violence with us or again not. I hope he makes the better choice this time.”
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