Team Mission

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.

2024 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.

January 23
February 27
March 26
April 23
May 28
June 25
August 27
Sept 24
October 22
November 26

To attend our meetings onZoom:

From your PC, Mac, Linux,iOS or Android click this link:
https://zoom.us/j/7132347624

Or by phone:
1-408.638.0968 or646.558.8656

Meeting ID – 713-234-7624

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 holistic 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 1,900 Pennsylvanians each year.

Our team’s approach is to focus on supporting these six 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
  • Assault Weapons Ban – ban semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 and high capacity magazines

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
  • PA House Bill HB714 passed the full House in May of 2023 and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee waiting for consideration. It would close the loophole on long gun private sales, like the AR-15.

Federal Bills:

  • 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 Protection Order): ERPOs (also known as Red Flag laws)  permit the confiscation of firearms from someone presenting a danger to themselves or others.

  • PA House Bill HB1018 passed the full House in May of 2023 and is now in the PA Senate Judiciary Committee waiting for consideration.
  • 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 was voted out of the PA House Judiciary Committee, and failed a vote in the Full House.
  • 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.

  • House Rep. Chris Sappey just introduced a bill; more information is coming soon on this.

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

6. Assault Weapons Ban:

  • State Bill HB336 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in January of 2024.

2024 Team Meeting Summaries: Click to read now!

2024 Events & Updates

UU Gathering in Harrisburg:

Interfaith Advocacy for Gun Violence Reduction

UUJusticePA members, and those who were in Harrisburg on Tuesday,

Tuesday, May 7th, turned out to be a beautiful, blue sky day in Harrisburg, and a great day for lobbying our elected reps for gun safety.  UUjusticePA joined 50 other organizations and over 560 allies for CeaseFirePA Advocacy Day with 25 + members of our own. We had a chance to say thank you to our reps who are on board, and do ‘drop bys’ to the reps and Senators who are not- including Chester County’s Rep. John Lawrence, and the three PA Republican Senators who are holding up action on the three good bills that have already been voted out of the Senate.

However, we left Harrisburg in disappointment:  two good gun safety bills were voted on that afternoon in the PA House, and lost by one vote!
The previous bill that passed this Spring on Ghost Guns HB-777: had 3 Republicans vote yes, and one Democrat vote no.  The two bills that were voted on Tuesday were HB-2206– requiring all gun sales in PA to be recorded electronically (ease of tracing guns used in crime)  and HB335– making it illegal in PA to use glock switches and bump stocks that turn semi automatic guns into machine guns.

These should have been easy bills for at least a few Republicans to support, but to no avail.  My personal feeling is that Republican’s toe the line the closer we get to an election.

There is no excuse for Frank Burns, the lone Democrat in Johnstown to vote No on all three of these bills!  If anyone is in his district for the 2024 election, please let him hear about it big time.  What can we do to really get good gun safety bills passed?  Win more elections!

Keep in mind that the effort days like Tuesday provide still lay the groundwork for success, and are well worth doing.  I enjoy meeting and lobbying with my fellow UUs and others across the state, and get inspiration and energy from all of you who care about this work.

Spread the Peace,

Tom Buglio – UUJusticePA Gun Violence Prevention Team Leader

“Wear Orange Weekend”: June 7th-9th, 2024

 

UJusticePA Gun Violence Prevention Team observed the yearly remembrance of gun violence victims and their families by wearing orange and reminding their congregations of the ongoing epidemic of gun violence due to misuse of firearms all over the country.  Included in these pictures is a Friday, June 7th protest/ rally at the office of Rep. Craig Williams, who has been opposed to any common sense gun bills that would save lives.  My picture shows me pointing to my clock, with the message that ‘ it is long past time to reduce the carnage.’

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others. Wear Orange is now observed every June. Thousands of people wear the color orange to honor Hadiya and the more than 43,000 Americans are killed with guns and approximately 76,000 more are shot and wounded every year.

Thanks to participants Mea & Judy; Nancy & friends; and Tom & Becky. For more, go to www.wearorange.org.

“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

https://marchforourlives.com/generation-lockdown/

Join the fight: TEXT “isthisnormal” to 954-954

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!

President Biden & GVP Policy

 

 

 

FACT: 4.6 million children live in homes with access to unlocked or unsupervised guns. Help End Family Fire.

To learn more, visit www.endfamilyfire.org

 

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 bryanheeding@gmail.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)

Properly designed and maintained outdoor green spaces have the potential to reduce violent crime and gun violence, make communities safer and keep residents healthier, a new study suggests. Conversely, green space that is poorly designed and inadequately maintained can help crime take root and spread. The findings come from a team of scientists who have assembled a big-picture review of research on the complicated relationship between nature and crime in urban areas. They identified several patterns, including the effect of urban green space on gun violence, that can help inform public policy, guide urban design and promote neighborhoods that are safe and pleasant to live in. 
The project came about because members of the research team had been touched by crime, either directly or indirectly. “All of us had some sort of experience, personally or through family members. And we thought maybe we can do something about it,” said Hessam Sadatsafavi of the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

 

 

 

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

Autumn, 2021

The good: 

* 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.

 

The bad:

* 4650 guns seized by TSA this year at airports, most loaded. Surge in gun seizures highest ever

 

*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.

The ugly:

* 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

“My belief is that the best way to reduce gun violence is to keep the guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to others, and to themselves before the shooting starts…Eighty percent of Pennsylvanians support Red Flag Laws, and the bottom line is they save lives.” Justice Team leader Tom Buglio’s letter to the editor was recently published by Daily Local News! Read it HERE. 

Upcoming Events

CANDLELIGHT VIGILS at the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy are happening all around the state.

CALL TO ACTION:

Legislative Issues

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).

HB 1903 – ERPO – (Extreme Risk Protection Order) by Todd Stevens (R) and Jennifer O’Mara (D). PA House version of an Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill,
similar to SB-134 in the PA Senate.
It has 25 cosponsors out of 203 House members.
ERPO is a bill that would take guns out of the hands of individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others.
It is an effective preventative measure to reduce suicides, domestic shootings and mass shootings. States like Connecticut and California that have ERPO on the books have seen suicide decline by a significant amount.
 
HB 1846 – Gun Safety Training – required for anyone purchasing a gun. This bill was just introduced by Christina Sappey (D) Chester County, and has 19 cosponsors. The safety training involves keeping guns locked and unloaded in the home. This is a bill that requires gun owners to be responsible with their possibly deadly weapon. There are many stories of gun owners not practicing gun safety resulting in tragedy. The latest is the story of a 2-year-old who found his father’s loaded gun and shot his mother dead while she was on a live Zoom call. It happened in Florida this past August. 

The Common Agenda:

Bills to Watch (PA State Bills)

Background Checks:

HB 235, 34 cosponsors

SB 88, 16 cosponsors

 

ERPO:

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

 

 

Partner Links

Local Groups

PA State Groups

National Groups

 

Resources

 

“Common Agenda” Topic Guides:

Additional Resources:

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

Malvern, Pennsylvania

Action Alerts

Click the links below for MORE easy ways you can help end gun violence, by taking action RIGHT NOW!