Jay Costa on Combating Gun Violence

Pennsylvania has not been immune to the tragedy of gun violence. I’m horrified by the damage it does to our communities.

We must stand up to companies that put weapons of war onto the streets of our communities and those who operate through loopholes in our law while hiding behind the banner of our second amendment.

I’m also sickened by the fact that our state remains invested in assault weapon manufacturers, even as our families are affected by the use of weapons in our schools and houses of worship.

Divest the State from Investments in Gun Companies 

  • I introduced Senate Bill 388, which requires Pennsylvania to stop investing in assault weapons manufacturers. 

Ban Assault Weapons and Bump Stocks

Assault weapons are the tools of war and belong only on the battlefield. I’ve worked hard to ban these weapons from our streets.

We must take sensible action to address gun violence and keep our communities safe. And yes, we can do this while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners. Anyone who says it’s one or the other is pushing a false narrative and asking you to make a false choice.

  • I support Senate Bill 292, which bans assault weapon sales in Pennsylvania.

Expand the list of violent crimes that prohibit someone from owning a firearm

Some people in our state government think it’s a good idea to allow dangerous criminals to continue purchasing weapons of war. If you committed a violent crime, you shouldn’t own a gun. Period.

We must expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws. It’s just common sense.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

It makes no sense to allow someone who poses an immediate threat to themselves or others to have a gun.

That is why I support Senate Bill 90, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which would give our local courts the ability to:

  • Temporarily remove guns from people who’ve demonstrated suicidal tendencies.
  • Remove weapon access to those who have been credibly accused of domestic violence.

Combating Community Violence 

When we act only in response to tragedies we limit our ability to end violence in our communities. Instead, our state government should be proactive in addressing the root causes of that violence.

That means investing resources into our communities to shore up public safety AND to develop social, economic, and educational equity statewide.

Oftentimes, community leaders know what’s best for their communities, and we need to do all we can to make sure they have the means to implement the solutions they know will work.

  • I supported Governor Wolf’s recent plan to designate $40 million in state funding for School Safety and Community Violence Prevention grants, which will help local community leaders develop the tools they need to proactively prevent student violence and upgrade their safety infrastructure. 

Safety in Public Spaces

We must also recognize that one’s safety in public can no longer be taken for granted.

  • That’s why I’ve supported Act 44, the Pennsylvania School Safety and Security Fund, to provide additional state funds to better protect our schools, childcare facilities, and other public spaces. 
  • I, along with my Democratic colleagues in Harrisburg, recently fought for $5 million in grant funding for religious spaces to improve their security.
  • I was proud to help the Woodland Hills School District receive a $350,000 state-sponsored grant to develop a violence prevention initiative throughout the district. The program includes a variety of initiatives, including after-school activities, mentoring opportunities, new training for educators and school staff, and the implementation of a Community Readiness Model, which will help monitor the district’s reaction to these new measures. We must do more to prevent school violence across Pennsylvania, and grants like the one Woodland Hills received can serve as a model for success statewide. 

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