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

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – Governor Tom Wolf recently 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.

Gov. Wolf was joined by legislators, community leaders, advocates, and students at Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice, Philadelphia, Pa.

“Too many Pennsylvanians have been traumatized by gun violence, so I’m here today 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.”

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.

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.”

While some legislators applaud the measure, others have voiced concern about the some of the increases, like the increased grant money, in Governor Wolf’s budget proposal.

“The governor has a lot of ideas for how to spend money and is missing an opportunity to rein in excessive government costs. The taxpayers of Pennsylvania are not a bottomless piggy bank,” State Rep. David Rowe (R-Snyder/Union) said.

“The governor’s $36 billion budget would take us two steps back at a time when we are starting to catch up to the booming national economy. In the coming weeks, I am looking forward to fighting for the Taxpayer Protection Act and working with my colleagues to craft a responsible budget that won’t rob the future of Pennsylvania’s families.”

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