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Committee Chair Curtis Jones Jr., Councilmember Bill Greenlee and Council President Darrell Clarke sit in on the Committee of Public Safety's public hearing on Oct. 30. Photo: Michelle Myers/AL DÍA News.
Committee Chair Curtis Jones Jr., Councilmember Bill Greenlee and Council President Darrell Clarke sit in on the Committee of Public Safety's public hearing on Oct. 30. Photo: Michelle Myers/AL DÍA News.

Philadelphia’s “Safe Havens” legislation passes out of Committee of Public Safety

The bill banning weapons from Philadelphia rec centers was one of three pertaining to gun ownership to pass on Oct. 30.

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Council President Darrell Clarke admitted he doesn’t usually sit in City Council’s chambers during public hearings, but when it comes to gun violence in Philadelphia, the approach is hitting a breaking point.

“Those of us who have responsibility for coming up with solutions, in all honesty, we just kind of shake our heads and say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” he said.

Clarke was speaking at a public hearing for City Council’s Committee on Public Safety on Oct. 30. Taking center stage were three bills geared to combating the city’s current gun violence crisis.

One of them was his own “Safe Havens” bill, which bans weapons from the city’s rec centers.

The bill, along with Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr.’s legislation, which implements a court process to remove firearms from individuals who present “imminent threat,” both have companion bills at the state level.

Both city bills passed through committee and could go in front of full council as early as next week. If passed there, the city must wait for passage of the companion bills at the state level. 

For years, the city has jousted with state legislators to change PA’s preemption law that prohibits local governments from regulating firearms to no avail.

“We’ll always get pushback from the state because for whatever reason they don’t think that we should determine our own destiny,” said Clarke. “I clearly don’t understand that because we’re talking about creating a safe environment for our people.”

The third bill to pass the committee was a resolution for the Committee on Public Safety to hold hearings with various city offices to examine their plans for removing firearms from abusers in domestic violence cases.

This year, the city's 290 homicides is up 5% from the same time last year and is on track for the highest count since 2007.

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