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ICYMI: Gov. Wolf and State Leaders Call for Action to Reduce Gun Violence

March 24, 2021

Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and state leaders joined CeaseFirePA and advocates to call for common sense changes to reduce gun violence.

Gov. Wolf signed an executive order in 2019 to take bold, sweeping actions to combat gun violence in Pennsylvania and provide greater protection for all Pennsylvanians by targeting various types of gun violence with both preventive and proactive programs, but more action is needed from the General Assembly.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis in the commonwealth, one that disproportionately harms Pennsylvanians of color and that endangers our communities,” said Gov. Wolf. “But there are things we can and should do to reduce the danger gun violence poses to our neighbors, families and friends.

Check out the coverage:

PennLive: After shootings in Colorado and Georgia, gun rights proponents and gun control advocates clash in Pa.

One day after the seventh mass shooting in the U.S. in a week, gun control advocates and gun rights proponents in Pennsylvania clashed over the debate over the immediate calls for stricter laws to stem the tide of gun violence and deaths.

At a forum of gun violence survivors, advocates and gun owners, Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro called on legislative changes to restrict gun laws and implement common sense solutions to end gun violence.

“Gun violence is a scourge across Pennsylvania and across our nation and the mass shooting that took place yesterday in Colorado is another tragic reminder that we can’t wait to enact legislation that changes the narrative that there is nothing to be done,” said Wolf, a Democrat and ardent gun control advocate. “There is, and it involves making changes now. We can no longer wait to pass laws to reduce gun violence.”

Gun violence survivor Carol Lastowka said gun safety and gun ownership are critical to get beyond the current impasse on guns. Although a hunter and a gun owner, Lastowka said guns had had little positive impact on her life or the lives of those around her.

“Guns are part of my family, my life and my history, they always will be but I wish I never had to experience the tragic destruction firearms have wreaked on my loved ones,” she said. “I know as a gun owner that common sense solutions can save lives and continue to allow me to hunt.”

She has lost several friends, and including a cousin, to gun violence and gun accidents.

abc27: Gov. Wolf, Pa. advocates offer legislative solutions to end gun violence

One day after the mass shooting in Colorado, Governor Wolf and CeaseFirePA offered legislative solutions to address what it calls a public health crisis in Pennsylvania.

“In Pennsylvania, we will not tolerate hate, we will not tolerate discrimination and we will not tolerate gun violence,” Governor Wolf said.

“It doesn’t have to be this way at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh and it certainly doesn’t have to be this way at the supermarket in Boulder, and it doesn’t have to be this way every single night in the great city of Philadelphia,” said Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General.

One of the solutions, requiring lost or stolen firearms to be reported within 72 hours. Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, the founder of Mothers in Charge Inc., knows what can happen when a gun gets into the wrong hands after her son was killed in a dispute over a parking space.

“It’s not about taking anyone’s right,” Johnson-Speight said. “If you’re a responsible gun owner, that’s fine but should a 15, 16 22-year-old that shouldn’t have a gun, have a gun?”

Another proposal, closing gaps in background checks.

“It would prevent violent felons and other dangerous individuals from purchasing military-style rifles like the one used in Boulder, Colorado,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA.

Post-Gazette: Gun control advocates, including mother from Butler, stress their priorities

In April 2012, Denise Marks’ daughter Emily was a sophomore at Butler County Community College. It was around finals time and, unbeknownst to her parents, Emily was tremendously stressed. She was cramming for her tests, which she was worried about passing, and she clearly hadn’t slept well for days.

Yet rather than ask for help, Emily made a decision that would change the lives of her family forever. On April 27, Emily found her father’s gun in their home and used it to end her life.

Alongside the likes of civic leaders like Gov. Tom Wolf and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and other survivors of violence, Mrs. Marks shared her personal story virtually and helped introduce three main policy priorities for the Pennsylvania Legislature that aim to reduce gun violence in the state.

They include extreme risk protection orders to reduce suicides, lost and stolen reporting to stop the flow of illegal firearms by compelling a gun owner to report a lost or stolen gun and universal background checks to close a gap in the state’s gun safety protocols.

“Every death to gun violence is a tragedy, all the more because we know exactly how to reduce gun violence,” Mr. Wolf said. “For years, CeaseFirePA has advocated for common sense solutions that would reduce gun violence, save lives and make our communities safer. Once again, we raise our voices, together, to call for change.”

A common theme among the speakers was the idea that the three policies are not part of a hard-line anti-gun agenda, but rather ones of common sense.

York Daily Record: Pennsylvania leaders want to pass these gun-control laws. What happens next

A Susquehanna County native, Carol Lastowka has fond memories of her father hunting with her uncles and cousins and handing her his father’s rifle after she started hunting in 10th grade.

While that .30-.30 Winchester has put delicious meals on her family’s table, Lastowka said firearms have not been kind to her in many other ways.

“I have to tell you, for all of the enjoyment and pride that hunting gives me, I can’t say that guns have positively affected my life or the lives of those who I have known,” she said during a virtual rally Tuesday by CeaseFirePA, a coalition seeking to end gun violence.

Now she and other state leaders are pushing for a series of gun-control laws in the wake of a recent spate of mass shootings across the nation.

According to The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, there were 1,541 gun deaths in Pennsylvania in 2019 with suicides accounting for 63% of deaths and men making up 88% of victims.

Wolf said that Black Pennsylvanians are disproportionately affected by gun violence and that hate crimes “go hand-in-hand” with gun violence.

“We all need to raise our voices together to call for change,” he said.

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