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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Gov. Wolf signs executive order to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania

This comes two days after a gunman shot six police officers during a standoff in North Philly. 

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed an executive order to make sweeping changes to reduce gun violence in the commonwealth.

This executive order comes two days after a standoff in North Philadelphia on Aug. 14 that resulted in six police officers getting shot.

“Too many Pennsylvanians are dying from gun violence. We need to fix our weak gun laws and pass reforms focused on increasing safety and reducing danger to our citizens.” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “The action I am announcing today includes provisions for Pennsylvanians of all walks of life and looks at gun violence from all angles.”

The nearly two dozen new initiatives and reforms directed under the order fall into four primary categories:

  • New oversight and data sharing
  • Reducing community gun violence
  • Combating mass shootings
  • Addressing the rising number of gun-related domestic incidents and self-inflicted shootings, including suicides by gun

As part of the executive order, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will establish a new Office of Gun Violence Prevention, led by PCCD Chairman Charles Ramsey, who will also be charged with coordinating and facilitating gun violence reduction. The office will also contain a Special Council on Gun Violence tasked with meeting and developing a plan to reduce gun violence in the Commonwealth within 60 days. 

The executive order will also come with the creation of a Division of Violence Prevention within the Department of Health. The two new offices will work together to tackle gun violence from both the gun safety and public health perspectives.

“I am honored to be asked by Governor Wolf to chair the Special Council on Gun Violence and serve as his senior advisor,” PCCD Chairman Charles Ramsey said in a statement. “I look forward to developing recommendations to reduce and prevent gun violence – in all its forms – throughout Pennsylvania. The opportunity to explore gun violence in its totality is a unique challenge, but I am confident that the Council, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention at PCCD, and the Division of Violence Prevention at DOH will be up to that task.”

More than 1,600 people died in Pennsylvania from gunshot wounds in 2017, a rate above the national average. Guns account for the weapon used in 74% of all homicides and 52% of fatal suicides in Pennsylvania. The spikes in gun violence have led to billions of taxpayer dollars going toward efforts to increase security in schools and other public places and provide medical care to survivors, while families and communities have suffered invaluable losses when loved ones die of senseless gun violence.

“It is my honor and my duty to guide our commonwealth to a place where residents are not dying from gun violence while also upholding rights,” Gov. Wolf said. “By finding the right middle ground, we can create the best Pennsylvania; one of freedom without fear. The conversation of where this middle ground lays is ongoing, and I look forward to continuing it with the legislature as we move into the start of the fall session.”

In addition to his call for a federal assault weapons ban, Wolf will also call upon the General Assembly to pass safe storage legislation to reduce the number of accidental shootings, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law, lost and stolen gun reporting, and universal background checks by the Pennsylvania State Police on all gun purchases.

 

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