Pennsylvania gov. signs measure to fight gun violence

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order Friday taking aim at what he called the “public health crisis of gun violence.” The action came just days after an armed suspect shot and wounded six police officers during a standoff in Philadelphia.
“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,” Wolf said in a statement. “The action I am announcing today includes provisions for Pennsylvanians of all walks of life and looks at gun violence from all angles.”The executive order is intended to strengthen agencies, programs and departments that focus on improving public health and safety, CBS affiliate KDKA reports. It creates an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and a Division of Violence Prevention within the state Department of Health. State health officials will be responsible for collecting data on gun violence incidents to help inform more effective responses and policy decisions.

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Wolf also appointed Charles Ramsey, chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, to a new role as senior advisor for gun violence prevention.

According to the governor’s office, more than 1,600 people died in Pennsylvania from gunshot wounds in 2017, a rate above the national average. Guns were involved in 74% of all homicides and 52% of suicide deaths in the state, the office said.

Wolf is also calling for a federal ban on assault weapons, and he urged the state Assembly to pass a “red flag” law, safe gun storage requirements, and universal background checks for gun purchases.

The state was the site of a mass shooting last October, when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.

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