CeaseFirePA is in the courts, in the news room, and in communities across Pennsylvania. We've also been adding new members to our growing board of directors to strengthen our impact on gun violence and illegal handguns statewide.
Gun Violence Task Force is Working--but Needs Statewide Support
Because CeaseFirePA believes not only in reasonable reforms of our handgun laws, but also in enforcing those gun laws already on the books, our organization has begun a new courtroom monitoring project in collaboration with the Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force to make sure illegal gun traffickers get sentences commensurate with the real harm they inflict on the city.
Thursday's Philadelphia Inquirer featured a CeaseFirePA op-ed by board president Phil Goldsmith and executive director Joe Grace discussing the partnership and the new initiative. In some of the cases we have already monitored, illegally transferred handguns were later used in homicides, while many others are as yet unaccounted for.
In one case monitored by CeaseFirePA, Judge Ellen Ceisler said: "Twelve hundred gun deaths a year in Pennsylvania, the vast majority of those deaths committed with illegally obtained handguns. We have to send a message. There's a war zone in our city. This must stop." The straw purchaser in that case was sentenced to jail.
The Task Force has made a substantial dent in illegal gun trafficking in Philadelphia. Despite this success, its work is now threatened by state budget cuts--the budget approved by the state House last week would cut its funding by $2 million. That's a 40 percent hit to a program that's actually doing something about gun crime.
Not only should the General Assembly and Gov. Rendell restore the task force's full funding, but CeaseFirePA has also asked every candidate for governor in this year's election to support full funding of the task force and an expansion of the program to other communities across the state.
Pittsburgh Investigates Florida Loophole
Concern for the Florida concealed carry loophole has reached the western part of the state. In February, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that individuals who had their concealed carry permits denied or revoked in Pennsylvania could apply via mail for a permit through the Florida Department of Agriculture. This is because of a reciprocity agreement between the two states entered into by state Attorney General Tom Corbett.
Persons in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania denied a permit to carry a concealed weapon are obtaining those permits by mail from Florida-and increasingly are being stopped by police in Pa. while carrying these Florida permits. Some of these individuals were in the course of committing other crimes when stopped, but gun charges can't be brought because they possess a Florida permit.
This week, Pittsburgh Channel 4 (ABC Affiliate) reported that in western Pennsylvania, the number of Florida permits issued to Pa. residents now totals more than 400. Statewide, the number has grown by 500 in the past two months to more than 3,000. This bad reciprocity agreement stands the law on its head.
Attorney General Corbett should more strictly interpret this agreement between Pa. and Fla. to eliminate the "Florida loophole," or revise the agreement to eliminate this threat to public safety.
CeaseFirePA Welcomes Three New Board Members
A legal advocate, a doctor, and a marketing expert have all joined CeaseFirePA's board of directors to aid our growing statewide effort to reduce access to illegal guns.Nancy Gordon, who has managed numerous local campaign and advocacy efforts; Keith Leaphart, D.O./MBA, president of Replica Creative: Design + Print; and Ed Tettemer, a renowned independent advertising and communications consultant, were recently elected directors of the organization.
Phil Goldsmith, CeaseFirePA board president, said: "Our organization is active now in 32 cities and towns across the state, and more municipalities and citizens join our coalition every day. Our board growth mirrors our important work statewide. The addition of Nancy Gordon, Keith Leaphart and Ed Tettemer to our board will enable us to continue strengthening CeaseFirePA and enhance our capacity to reach more Pennsylvanians with our commonsense message to reduce and prevent gun violence."
Join us at Legs Against Arms on April 11
Come visit CeaseFirePA at the Legs Against Arms race on April 11 at St. Joe's University-a walk/run to raise awareness for gun violence and illegal handguns. We will have an exhibitor table and hope you will come join the festivities following the race, which is hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. If you are a runner or walker, you can register until April 7. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. and the festivities start at 10 a.m.-you don't have to be a runner/walker to join in!
Every day, we are finding new ways to target illegal handguns and help keep them off the streets and out of communities across Pennsylvania. Now is the time to support our work with a donation as we continue our movement across Pennsylvania. We also encourage you to join us on Facebook--and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to as well--to add your thoughts to the discussion that is heating up. We remain focused every day on reducing and preventing gun violence in Pennsylvania, and we value your support.