Gun violence is an increasing danger in our country, with gun sales, mass shootings, and inner-city violence growing at record rates. We recognize that gun violence affects lower income communities disproportionately. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and we abhor unnecessary gun violence in all forms. We advocate for common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and look to build and work with a coalition of groups to spread the message of peaceful solutions to conflict.
2023 Meeting Dates
Our Team meets monthly via Zoom
(with the exception of July and December),
on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
To attend our meetings onZoom:
From your PC, Mac, Linux,iOS or Android click this link:
Or by phone:
Meeting ID – 713-234-7624
ELECTION IMPACT: A Spark of Hope Realized in Pennsylvania!
As was hoped, with the Democrats controlling the PA House by a single vote after last year’s election, Gun Violence Prevention bills
have a serious chance of passing. The Judicial Committee passed the 4 gun safety bills that have been championed by CeaseFirePA, and the Common Agenda of Gun Violence Prevention groups, including ours. These are called the Common Agenda bills,
and 3 of the 4 came up for a vote in the PA House in May. As of June 14th, here are the results:
1. Background Checks (HB714) – closing the long gun loophole on private sales. PASSED with 9 Republican votes
2. Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Red Flag Law) (HB1018) – petitioning a judge to take away a gun from someone exhibiting dangerous behavior to themselves or others. PASSED with 2 Republican votes
3. Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting (HB-338) – lost by 1 vote!
4. Safe Storage (HB731) – has not come up for a vote yet.
UUJusticePA-GVP team has also added two more Gun Safety initiatives to our focus over the next two years.
5. Gun Safety Training – for first time users. Christina Sappey champions this Memorandum. no bill # yet
6. Assault Weapons Ban – HB336 – Outlaw sales of powerful semi-automatic weapons that imitate weapons of war.
“Wear Orange Day”: June 2nd – 4th, 2023
Wear Orange Day is a national observation and commemoration of the victims and survivors of gun violence. This remembrance of the tragedy which misuse of firearms causes to friends, family and community is traditionally on the first weekend of June. Wear Orange was started by family and friends of Hadiyah Pendelton, a teenager tragically struck by a bullet in Chicago soon after her school performed at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural.
Thanks to participants Mea & Judy; Nancy & friends; and Tom & Becky. For more, go to www.wearorange.org.
“Gun Raffle for AR-15 Postponed”: June 2nd, 2023
Read local news coverage HERE.
Tom Buglio lead the protest to this by directing a number of activists to flood the Chester County GOP with letters and emails requesting they cease and desist. In addition, he lead a contingent of activists to march to the Republican Headquarters of Chester County after the Wear Orange Rally to drop off a letter with the same message. Since no one was at the office that day, sidewalk chalk was used to leave messages about what a bad idea it was. The Chester County GOP succumbed to public pressure, and decided to postpone the AR-15 raffle, demonstrating that sometimes public pressure works.
TRAGEDY IN NASHVILLE
Just five days after our advocacy day in Harrisburg, another community experienced the heart-wrenching terror of yet another school shooting. Three children and 3 adults were gunned down by a 28-year-old former student, armed with two AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles and a pistol. The shooter got off 152 rounds in her rampage. Here are some bloody facts:
* This was the 13th school shooting of the year
* Now there are 56 children shot this year
*Gun violence is now the #1 cause of childhood deaths in America
Here is my letter to the editor written after this horrible day:
UUJusticePA joined CeaseFire Advocacy Day in Harrisburg on Thursday, March 23rd along with Moms Demand Action, March for Our Lives kids, and other organizations, totaling about 400 people in all lobbying for a safer PA.
There were around 15 UUs from all over the state who met with legislators in the AM, rallied on the Steps of the Capitol building with powerful speakers, and sat in on the PA House Judiciary Committee hearing in the afternoon where a panel of 9 experts testified to the need for stronger gun safety laws and policies. We left Harrisburg with hope that some real action on gun safety will be taken by the PA House. It will take all of us to lobby our legislators when the bills for the Common Agenda policies are finalized.
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL HELD
We had a moving memorial in the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester on Saturday, December 10th, with a crowd of 50 people observing the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. It was very powerful as Carmen Lobis, grandfather of a Sandy Hook child victim, spoke. In addition, host Reverend Dan Schatz spoke, performed, and sang. Religious leaders from three other faith communities spoke as well. The visual of seats missing at the table, roses laid to remember the Sandy Hook angels and staff, and the pictures projected of each person who lost their life that day was very moving, as a bell tolled for each name. Thanks to Carol Lastowka from CeaseFirePA and Starr Cummin Bright of GunSenseUs for helping to organize the day and making it a success.
“We keep sending kids to school drills on how to hide against school shooters, and we ask ourselves: Is this normal? We are tired of accepting fear as a response to tragedy, instead of taking action to make our communities safer. It’s time to stop the next school shooting.” – March For Our Lives
Watch the video on Twitter HERE.
Learn more at
Join the fight: TEXT “isthisnormal” to 954-954
A “Common Agenda”
Gun Violence in America is on the rise, and is a growing Public Health Crisis. It should be treated as such. America needs to take the same wholistic approach to this epidemic as we did with drunk driving, smoking, and the opioid crisis. COMMON AGENDA is a statewide coalition of groups working to end gun violence.
Gun violence claims the lives of about 1,600 Pennsylvanians each year.
Our team’s approach is to focus on supporting these five main policy initiatives:
- Universal Background Checks
- ERPO (Extreme Risk Protection Orders)
- Report Lost or Stolen Firearms to Police
- Firearms Safety Training – Mandatory
- Safe Storage – Mandatory
Items 1, 2, and 3 above are the major points of the Common Agenda statewide coalition against gun violence, of which we are proud to be a part.
Each of these main topics is featured below (click the name to open a more detailed guide). Also, under each topic is a list of current bills to watch. Ask your state and federal Representatives and Senators to cosponsor these bills!
1. Universal Background Checks: Right now, in most states it is legal to sell guns privately without a background check, including long guns in Pennsylvania. We believe all sellers of firearms should undergo a universal background check.
Bills in PA on this topic:
- HB 235, 34 cosponsors
- SB 88, 16 cosponsors
- HR 8, passed the US House
- HR 1446 (close Charleston Loophole – mandating no gun purchase until background check is completed), 145 sponsors in US House
- SB 529, Chris Murphy bill, has 45 cosponsors in the US Senate
2. ERPO (Extreme Risk Prevention Order): ERPOs permit the confiscation of firearms from someone presenting a danger to themselves or others.
- SB 134, 16 cosponsors
- HB 1903, Jennifer O’Mara (D) and Todd Stevens (R), 25 cosponsors
3. Report Lost or Stolen Firearms to Police: This measure has been proven to cut down on the illegal gun trade.
- HB 980, 34 cosponsors
- SB 217, 15 cosponsors
4. Firearms Safety Training Mandatory: We believe that in order to own a gun responsibly, one must be trained to use it safely.
- HB 1846, 19 cosponsors – Chris Sappey just introduced
5. Safe Storage: Mandatory safe storing of unloaded firearms, which are to be locked or in a gun safe in homes with children under the age of 18.
- HB 237, 18 cosponsors
From Tom Buglio, GVP Team Leader, April 2022:
- Universal Background Checks
- Red Flag laws
- Report Lost & Stolen Guns
- (and a big push right now during budget season): Advocate for $80 million for Violence Intervention efforts in the inner cities
April 2022: CEASEFIRE PA NEWSLETTER
“Welcome to the special edition of the CeaseFirePA Newsletter, recounting all the powerful accomplishments of our day of advocacy in Harrisburg. 1,296 days have passed since the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed meaningful legislation to combat the gun violence crisis. Look at what has happened since then.”
March 2022: A Letter to (and from) President Biden
Click below to read our recent letter to the White House — and the response we received!
The Recent Success of Chester, PA: 45% Reduction in Gun Violence
FACT: 4.6 million children live in homes with access to unlocked or unsupervised guns. Help End Family Fire.
Family fire is a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun in the home that results in death or injury.
Every day, eight children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed due to an unlocked or unsupervised gun in the home. When someone attempts suicide with a gun, they rarely get a second chance to live a full life. Unintentional shootings, suicide, and intentional shootings are all forms of family fire.
You have the power to end family fire by following our motto: Act, Ask, Talk, and Learn. These four easy steps can prevent avoidable tragedies.
ACT: Safe gun storage must be a top priority for all gun owners, and that means we must ACT responsibly when firearms are in the home by storing guns securely. Although teaching children about gun safety has value, parents should not rely on safety training alone to ensure their kids do not handle guns unsupervised.
ASK: Make sure you ASK the right questions when going to others’ houses or checking in on family and friends. ASK: “Is there an unlocked or loaded gun in the home?”
TALK: Have ongoing conversations with family and friends about safe storage, and TALK about what responsible gun ownership and gun safety looks like.
LEARN: It’s important to LEARN about safe gun storage options in your community from local police departments and firearms retailers and to familiarize yourself with state and local gun laws to ensure you are in compliance.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP US END GUN VIOLENCE?
Let’s get your UU Congregation to join the Common Agenda Coalition!
We currently have three UU Congregations on the Common Agenda Coalition. Welcome to the UU Congregation of Erie!
Here is the letter I sent to my minister and leaders in my UU. Please consider doing the same and use this letter as a model to write your own.
Memorial to the Lost:
Heeding God’s Call, one of our partner GVP organizations, has for years been displaying T shirts with the names of local gun violence victims. Shown here: the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester hosted the T shirts for two months in 2019. If you would like your congregation to participate, please contact Bryan Miller of Heeding God’s Call at email@example.com.
FIGHTING THE GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC
UPDATE: US Supreme Court Case: NY State Rifle Assn vs. Bruen:
NRA-backed challenge to NY State stringent conceal carry restrictions
The court will soon take up New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, more than a decade after its last major gun rights decision. The new case concerns concealed-carry restrictions under NY state law that require a showing of “proper cause.” Lower courts have upheld the New York law, but there are ample constitutional concerns over its vague standard, such as showing that you are “of good moral character.” The case presents a single short, direct question — whether New York’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.
The high court has been virtually silent on gun rights since 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, which established that the Second Amendment includes the right to bear arms in the home. And it has never settled the question of whether that right extends to the public sphere. The fear is that with three Trump-appointed Justices, this is the perfect case to extend gun rights beyond the home, making it easier for Americans to conceal carry.
*US Fed. Solicitor General will argue case with NY State
UPDATE: Connection: Green Space in Urban Settings and GV reduction
(paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
UPDATE: News from Philadelphia
* Red Lining: The Philadelphia Inquirer mapped areas that were redlined in the 1930s and compared them to areas that face high rates of gun violence today. Of the 57 city blocks where 10 or more people have been shot since 2015, 53 were in communities the federal government once deemed undesirable.
* Three students from same high school were shot and killed in one week recently.
* Funeral Directors in Philly are reporting a surge in GV funerals. Used to be 3 a month, now 5 a week!
THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY:
Gun Violence News Across the Country
* Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the lifetime gun ban for people convicted of nonviolent felonies.
*The governors of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York agreed to share crime gun data across state lines.
*2020 was a banner year for gun imports — the U.S. brought in a record 6.8 million firearms last year, according to the agency’s annual firearms commerce report, with Turkey, Austria, and Brazil leading the way.
*ATF inspections: conducted compliance inspections of only 4.5 percent of the nation’s 130,605 federal firearms licensees, down from 10 percent in 2019 and the lowest annual share since 2004.
* Shooting at Texas high school with 4 injured this month was 37th school shooting since August.
“All my students instantly recognized the sound and said ‘gunshots,’ turned off the lights, and hid behind desks.
It was clear that they were well trained.” – teacher statement
* Capitol rioters came armed on January 6 despite repeated claims otherwise, according to Mother Jones, which studied video footage, court documents, and Congressional testimony.
In the News
CANDLELIGHT VIGILS at the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy are happening all around the state.
CALL TO ACTION:
Gun Violence is a national health epidemic and is getting worse. Here are two ways you can help! Please contact your state representatives to support and cosponsor two new gun safety bills introduced within the last month. These bills are of special importance (as of October 2021).
The Common Agenda:
Bills to Watch (PA State Bills)
HB 235, 34 cosponsors
SB 88, 16 cosponsors
NEW Todd Stevens (R), Jennifer O’Mara (D)
HB 1903, 25 cosponsors
SB 134, 16 cosponsors
Lost & Stolen Guns:
HB 980, 34 cosponsors
SB 217 15 cosponsors
OTHER BILLS we care about:
Safe Storage, HB 237, 18 cosponsors
NEW Gun Safety Training, HB 1846
Chris Sappey, 19 cosponsors
PA State Groups
- Giffords for Gun Safety
- Everytown for Gun Safety
- Brady United
- Guns Down America
- Sandy Hook Promise
- Doctors for America
“Common Agenda” Topic Guides:
Read our recent Letter to the Editor, below:
(we encourage you to use this as inspiration for writing your own letter to your local newspapers!):
Strong Gun Laws in DC Prevented a Massacre
The true nature of the violence of the January 6th insurrection has become more obvious and frightening, after the impeachment managers displayed old and new video of that terrible day during the Senate trial. Many who attacked the Capitol were ex-military, and many connected to White Supremacy groups intent on serious mayhem, so the question that remains unanswered is, why was the death toll not higher? I suggest that Washington DC’s strong gun laws are the answer.
- No firearms permitted in the Capitol Complex
- No firearms permitted in the Mall area
- No firearms permitted at the Ellipse, where outdoor speeches were given
- No concealed carry permitted by those from out of state
- No Open Carry of firearms
Indeed, some attackers brought arsenals of guns to DC in their cars, but left them there for fear of arrest. Without these strong gun laws, the insurrection could have been a blood bath.
This is further evidence that good gun laws do work. CeaseFirePA is working to build a coalition around a Common Agenda for Gun Violence Prevention based upon three proposals that have proven to reduce gun violence in states that have passed them into law:
1. Universal Background Checks
2. Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO)
3. Report Lost and Stolen Guns – to cut down on illegal gun trade
These three initiatives have support from a vast majority of the American public. With gun violence becoming a greater threat nationally, and here in PA (gun deaths 25% higher over the last 20 years) common sense restrictions that do not infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners are needed to stem the tide of gun violence now more than ever. With over 100 organizations and growing, please join the coalition of voices calling for the Common Agenda to stem gun violence, and let your PA House member and PA Senator know that they should do the same.
-Tom Buglio, UUJusticePA
Click the links below for MORE easy ways you can help end gun violence, by taking action RIGHT NOW!
- Let’s get your UU Congregation to join the Common Agenda Coalition! We currently have three UU Congregations on the Common Agenda Coalition. Welcome to the UU Congregation of Erie! Here is the letter I sent to my minister and leaders in my UU. Please consider doing the same and use this letter as a model to write your own.
- Call to action: Sign the petition – no firearms on the Capitol Grounds!
- We need your help against “ghost guns,” unregistered firearms assembled at home by consumers from readily available, unregulated “parts.” “Ghost guns” are legal and can be made in just an hour with no background check required. Please join us in telling President Biden that the “ghost gun” loophole must be CLOSED! https://ceasefirepa.salsalabs.org/ghostgunsbiden/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=edbb65ef-6785-4773-976b-645767bf552d
- Check out “Legislation We Support” in the right-hand column of this page. Let’s contact our PA House Reps and Senators and ask them to cosponsor these bills! Check here if you’re unsure who your legislators are: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/