HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – On the heels of the Philadelphia shooting standoff that left six officers wounded, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order Friday morning, making unprecedented sweeping changes to executive branch agencies and programs to better target the public health crisis of gun violence in Pennsylvania.
“Too many Pennsylvanians are dying from gun violence. We need to fix our weak gun laws and pass reforms focused on increasing safety and reducing danger to our citizens.” Gov. Wolf said.
The governor’s executive order names Charles Ramsey, current chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, as a senior advisor placed with the responsibility of coordinating and facilitating gun violence reduction.
The office will have a special council on gun violence that will have 60 days to have started a plan to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania.
The executive order also creates the Division of Violence Prevention within the Department of Health. Those two new offices that are specifically aimed towards the reduction of firearm-related crimes and accidents in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Wolf states that this executive action alone is not enough to surmount gun violence and calls on the General Assembly to pass safe storage legislation to reduce the number of accidental shootings.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law, will help facilitate lost and stolen gun reporting as well as universal background checks by the Pennsylvania State Police on all gun purchases.
“I am honored to be asked by Governor Wolf to chair the Special Council on Gun Violence and serve as his senior advisor,” Ramsey said adding “I look forward to developing recommendations to reduce and prevent gun violence – in all its forms – throughout Pennsylvania.”
The executive order that Gov. Wolf signed subsists of three main tenets: reducing community gun violence, combatting mass shooting and halting domestic violence-related and self-inflicted shootings.
“It is my honor and my duty to guide our commonwealth to a place where residents are not dying from gun violence while also upholding rights,” Gov. Wolf said.
“By finding the right middle ground, we can create the best Pennsylvania; one of freedom without fear. The conversation of where this middle ground lays is ongoing, and I look forward to continuing it with the legislature as we move into the start of the fall session,” he continued.
More than 1,600 people died in Pennsylvania from gunshot wounds in 2017, a rate above the national average. Guns account for the weapon used in 74 percent of all homicides and 52 percent of fatal suicides in Pennsylvania.
Billions of taxpayer dollars, as a result, go toward efforts to increase security in schools and public places, medical care to survivors, while families and communities have suffered invaluable losses when loved ones die of senseless gun violence.