Governor Wolf Pushes Congress on Gun Safety, Proclaims “March for Our Lives Day” in Pennsylvania

March 23, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation praising recent gun safety measures in the federal omnibus bill and pushing for further action, including banning military-style weapons like the one used in the Parkland shooting tragedy.

The governor also proclaimed Saturday, March 24, “March for Our Lives Day” in Pennsylvania with many local events planned in the commonwealth in support of the Washington D.C. march. March for Our Lives supporters are primarily young people asking their representatives to make their safety a priority and address gun violence in our schools and communities.

The governor’s letter echoed the sentiments of march organizers by applauding students throughout the country who participated in the March 14 walkout and “passionately speak out and demand action in response to the terrifying reality of gun violence in our nation.”

The letter states, “I write today to thank you for listening to these students and taking important steps to prevent another tragedy like the one in Parkland, but also to urge you to take additional action to ban military style weapons that have been used to commit these heinous crimes.”

Gov. Wolf’s letter conveys support for the spending bill’s “several commonsense, bipartisan measures that, while long overdue, are a step in the right direction.” These include the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and critical tools in the bill to coordinate training for teachers, school officials, and law enforcement.

The letter also mentions the Fix NICS (National Instant Check System) Act to help prevent individuals with a history of mental illness or criminal convictions from buying firearms.

“Our commonwealth’s background check system – Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) – is one of the top systems in the nation and federal funding played an important role in what makes PICS work so well. Not all states and federal agencies have such an effective system in place and I know firsthand the limited resources governors must work with. Additional federal funding is crucial.”

Gov. Wolf expressed his support of the bill’s clarification for the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies to conduct research on the causes of gun violence, something that stopped via the passage of the Dickey Amendment in 1996’s omnibus spending bill. Former Arkansas Representative Jay Dickey, for whom the amendment is named, has said that research would not infringe on the rights of gun owners and can and should continue because “doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.”

The governor also called for bans on military-style weapons and accessories, such as the AR-15 and bump stocks.

“Law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth support these bans. They know that ending the sale of these weapons will make our communities safer. Had Congress not allowed a ban on these weapons to expire in 2004, the deaths that have occurred in Orlando, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook or Parkland may have never happened. These tragedies are becoming far too common. You must act to prevent another town being added to this list.

“I know that these measures will not prevent all tragedies. However, we cannot use that as an excuse to not act to protect our constituents.”

The full content of the letter can be read on Scribd and as a PDF here.

Read the March for Our Lives Day proclamation on Scribd and as a PDF here.

Dear Representative/Senator

Earlier this month, we saw American students throughout the country passionately speak out and demand action in response to the terrifying reality of gun violence in our nation. I write today to thank you for listening to these students and taking important steps to prevent another tragedy like the one in Parkland, but also to urge you to take additional action to ban military style weapons that have been used to commit these heinous crimes.

The omnibus spending bill contains several commonsense, bipartisan measures that, while long overdue, are a step in the right direction. The STOP School Violence Act of 2018 provides resources to make our schools safer. Training and coordination between teachers, school officials and law enforcement, and the development of reporting systems for threats of school violence and the funding for states contained in this bill are critical tools we need to protect our children.

The Fix NICS Act will help prevent individuals with a history of mental illness or criminal convictions from buying firearms. Our commonwealth’s background check system – Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) – is one of the top systems in the nation and federal funding played an important role in what makes PICS work so well. Not all states and federal agencies have such an effective system in place and I know firsthand the limited resources governors must work with. Additional federal funding is crucial.

I am also pleased to see that the bill clarifies that the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies can conduct research on the causes of gun violence. Medical groups such as the American Medical Women’s Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics have supported this. Even the amendment’s original sponsor, former Representative Jay Dickey, has said that research would not infringe on the rights of gun owners and can and should continue because “doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.”

As I said, these are steps in the right direction, but they cannot be the only actions taken. It is not the time to say “we’ve done all we can” and wait for the next tragedy to happen. Now is the time to ban military-style weapons like AR-15s and dangerous accessories like bump stocks. Law enforcement officials throughout the commonwealth support these bans. They know that ending the sale of these weapons will make our communities safer. Had Congress not allowed a ban on these weapons to expire in 2004, the deaths that have occurred in Orlando, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook or Parkland may have never happened. These tragedies are becoming far too common. You must act to prevent another town being added to this list.

I know that these measures will not prevent all tragedies. However, we cannot use that as an excuse to not act to protect our constituents. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this incredibly important dialogue. Please feel free to reach out to my office to continue this conversation.

Sincerely

TOM WOLF

SHARE Email Facebook Twitter

Sign up for Governor Wolf's newsletter.

Sign up for Governor Wolf's newsletter.