Gov. Wolf Asks Legislature to Join Efforts to Combat Community Gun Violence

Gov. Wolf Asks Legislature to Join Efforts to Combat Community Gun ViolenceGovernor Tom Wolf speaks during a press conference, which aimed to help combat community gun violence and support prevention and reduction efforts by approving $6 million proposed in the 2020-21 budget, inside Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice in Philadelphia on Friday, February 28, 2020. (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Governor Tom Wolf, joined by legislators, community leaders, advocates, and students at Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice asked the General Assembly to help combat community gun violence and support prevention and reduction efforts by approving $6 million proposed in his 2020-21 budget.

“Too many Pennsylvanians have been traumatized by gun violence, so [I’m here because] we know we have not done enough,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need to do better. We have an enormous opportunity to improve life in Pennsylvania.

“Gun violence may appear in different forms in different communities – some places may see on-street shootings while others have a high number of suicides by gun. It’s still gun violence and we need to address it because, ultimately, all types of gun violence result in devastation on families and communities.”

The Community Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction grants will be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Commission Chair and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey joined Gov. Wolf at the event.

“Over the past two years, PCCD has administered $3 million collectively on grants directed at reducing gun violence in our communities through the use of evidence-based programs and practices,” said Commissioner Ramsey. “Municipalities across this state – from Philadelphia and Allentown to McKeesport and Erie — have all taken advantage of these grants and have established their own local initiatives to address their needs. But more should be done, on a larger scale, to move the needle to make our communities safer. That’s why a $6 million investment, in a single budget year, is so important.”

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The grants funds will be directed toward community programs that focus on evidence-based strategies or promising practices as recommended by the governor’s Special Council on Gun Violence related to preventing suicide by gun, reducing community gun violence, preventing domestic violence-related shootings, reducing the likelihood of accidental shootings, and combatting mass shootings. Funded projects will use public health and public safety approaches and will include multiple cross-sector partners.

Previous grants included $1.5 million in both 2018 and 2019. The projects provided during those budget years are ongoing with dollars allocated across the state.

“The existing grants are funding more police in Luzerne County, a program to engage youth in McKeesport, a community strengthening program in Johnstown, an existing organization doing data-informed gun violence reduction work in Erie, a collaboration between the Pittsburgh Police Department and the Allegheny County Medical Examiners Office that has resulted in a 28 percent reduction in gun violence and an almost 50 percent reduction in homicides,” Gov. Wolf said. “I want to replicate the success of these programs in every corner of our commonwealth.”

General Assembly members Sens. Art Haywood and Anthony Williams and Reps. Steve Kinsey and Jordan Harris, among others, joined Gov. Wolf.

“I want the youth to know that we care about them and we want their futures to be full of hope, and success, not trauma due to gun violence,” said Sen. Art Haywood. “There are solutions to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania, and I am happy to stand with Governor Wolf and my colleagues in the General Assembly to support these actions.”

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“I’m extremely pleased and support Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to keep Pennsylvanians safe;” said Rep. Kinsey. “Gun violence has become a public health crisis, cutting short the lives of too many people across our commonwealth, especially here in Philadelphia. Governor Wolf recognizes this and has stepped up to the plate with plans to increase funding thus giving us additional resources that will assist us in battling this threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Pennsylvania.”

“Increased funding to evidence-based gun violence prevention programs isn’t just an investment in our present, but in the future of the young men and women in our neighborhoods who every day face the risk of getting shot and killed,” Sen. Anthony Williams said. “Keeping illegal guns off of the street and giving young people the resources they need to become working, voting, thinking citizens helps all Pennsylvanians toward a safer and more prosperous future.”

“Governor Wolf has been a tremendous ally in supporting Philadelphia, and it’s an honor to stand with him and my fellow Philadelphia [legislators to announce] more initiatives to help make our streets safer,” Rep. Jordan Harris said. “Philadelphia just saw a pregnant woman and her unborn child lose their lives to senseless gun violence. We cannot allow this scourge of violence to continue taking lives in our city.”

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School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr. said, “Gun violence is a public health crisis affecting far too many of our students in Philadelphia. I am grateful to Governor Wolf for making this issue a priority and fighting for the necessary funding to make our neighborhoods safer.”

Principal Jeffrey MacFarland added, “Our school community is honored to have Governor Wolf here as an advocate for change on the gun violence issue. Our students deal with the impact of gun violence on a daily basis, which is why our work as a school for peace and social justice is so important to create and maintain schools as safe spaces for personal and academic growth now and always.”

Read more about Gov. Wolf’s plans to strengthen public safety.

Learn more about the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

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