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:

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 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 1,900 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

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 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

2024 Team Meeting Summaries: Click to read now!

2023 Events & Updates

UU Gathering in Harrisburg:

Interfaith Advocacy for Gun Violence Reduction

Approximately 30 UUs from around the state gathered in Harrisburg on Wednesday, November 15th to advocate for passage of gun safety bills being considered, as well as ceremonies that commemorated the victims of gun violence across Pennsylvania. This was a convening of 15 different interfaith groups as diverse as Hindu, Bahai, Jewish, Lutheran, Quaker, and more, led by the Episcopal Archdiocese and Heeding God’s Call. UUJusticePA was happy to participate in the effort.

Highlights of the visit:

Prayer Breakfast:  Reverend Joan participated in the interfaith prayer breakfast early on Wednesday morning, where the theme was “many faiths speak with one voice on gun violence.”

Morning Visits: There were a few arranged meetings with legislators, including a contingent of UCWC members meeting with their Senator, Carolyn Comitta. Most broke off into groups of five doing “drop bys,” or unscheduled visits to various legislators on the list of those who were singled out as important votes. In most cases, the interfaith advocates made their case to aides and dropped off a letter of the bills we wanted them to support.

The Bills:

HB 714, Universal Background Checks, which would close the long gun private sale loophole. Currently, it is legal to sell an AR15 semiautomatic rifle, so popular with mass shooters, privately without a background check. This bill passed the PA House and is currently stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 1018, ERPO or Red Flag Bill permits police or family member to petition the court to take away guns from someone who is presenting a danger to themselves or others. It is designed to prevent suicide, domestic violence, and mass shootings. This bill passed the PA House and is currently stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 1629, Safe Storage Bill requires locking up guns in a home with children. This bill just passed the PA House on Tuesday Nov. 14th, the first day of the Harrisburg meeting.

The CeaseFire Clock: On Monday, November 13th, CeaseFire PA and a number of PA House and Senate legislators introduced a countdown clock inside the Capitol Building with a press conference. The clock is counting the days and hours between the time the first two bills passed the PA House back in May, and shows how long those bills have NOT been moving towards hearings or the taking up for a vote in the PA Senate. We took a number of pictures in front of this clock with UU members.

The Solemn Procession: Heeding God’s Call was able to recreate a version of their “Memorial to the Lost” with T shirts that had names and dates of victims of gun violence in Harrisburg. Many advocates proceeded to walk with these in an outside circling of the Capitol Building.

Meeting with Sen. Lisa Baker’s Top Aide: Tom Buglio, leader of the UUJusticePA Gun Violence Prevention Team, had a seat at the table with six other faith leaders in the most important meeting, which was with Ryan Shovlin, the top aide of Senator Lisa Baker. It was a constructive and respectful meeting, with the faith leaders explaining their view of how urgent it is to start hearings on the bills. Mr. Shovlin patiently heard our ideas and represented the reservations of Senator Baker, and by proxy, the other members in the Senate not friendly to the gun safety bills. We came up with a few ideas on how to move forward, and he promised that he would present them to the Senator and get back to Rev. Martha, the leader of the Interfaith effort.

Press Conference:  Along with Rev. Martha and five other faith leaders, Tom Buglio also participated in speaking at the Press Conference with a planned short speech.

All in all, it was a good experience for many to be in the seat of power in PA, advocating for a good cause. We have a new appreciation for what our Rev. Joan does on a regular basis. We also feel good about participating in an interfaith coalition, which we hope will continue to work together to speak with one voice on this issue, and possibly more social justice issues as well.

Bill Updates: November 2023

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. These are called the Common Agenda bills.

1. Background Checks – PA House HB714 passed in the House in May. It would close the loophole on long gun private sales, such as the AR-15. It is languishing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

2. Extreme Risk Protection Order (Red Flag Law) – PA House HB1018 passed in the House in May. It is designed to provide a way to petition a judge to take firearms away from someone who is a danger to themselves or others for a temporary period of time. It is languishing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

3. Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting – HB731 did not pass in the PA House. PA Dems plan to revisit this bill.

4. Safe Storage – PA House HB1629 passed the House Judiciary Committee in November. This bill requires locking up guns in a home with children. Plans for a vote in the full House to follow. 

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


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:

Availability of guns puts everyone at risk
    March 27th was another day Americans had to deal with confronting yet another horrific school shooting. This time, in Nashville, Tennesse, a 28-year-old former student took two AR-15 semi-auto rifles and a pistol, shot through the locked side door, and enacted a planned scene of mayhem on a private elementary school that she had attended.  Fortunately, law enforcement acted quickly, and within 14 minutes of the start of the shooting, the shooter was shot to death, but not before three innocent children and three adult staff members were killed.  Depressingly, this is not a rare event in our gun-loving country, as this was the 13th school shooting of just this year alone.  There have already been over 100 mass shootings in 2023!  The trauma that the children in the school as well as parents, staff members and the entire community will be going through for years to come is hard to fathom, except by those who have experienced a shooting themselves.
   Gun Violence and its potential is everywhere, and nowhere is safe, not even in bucolic Chester County.  Just look at the last two days of newspaper headlines in the Daily Local News:
*a routine traffic stop ended up in a scuffle for control of an illegal gun in New Garden township
*a man in a West Chester parking garage threatened people with a gun late at night on March 19th
*a young man shot another in front of the courthouse in downtown West Chester goes to trial
*a life sentence was handed down to the man who murdered his wife at a local Wawa with an AR-15
   What is the one common factor in all of these terrible events?  The easy availability of guns. In our country, it is far easier for someone to buy a gun than it is to get a driver’s license. There is no required testing or training to use a gun safely, there is no requirement to lock up your firearms in a home with young children, there is no limit on the firearm power of assault style semi-automatics with huge magazines of bullets that inflict terrible carnage when used.
There is easy access to stolen guns in the inner cities where gang violence and retribution are an everyday event.
And this is a uniquely American problem that we own as we experience 10 times the amount of gun violence as most other countries!  Right now, we value the “2nd amendment right to own as many guns as possible with as few restrictions” because of the power of the gun lobby, and the glorification of violence for settling our differences permeating our movies, TV and video gaming industry.  There is no easy answer to change things.  But until we start to love our kids more than our guns, these headlines and stories about gun violence will continue, until we wake up to the story of a mass shooting in one of our schools.  It is just a matter of time. 
Tom Buglio – Malvern PA





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.



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



From Tom Buglio, GVP Team Leader, April 2022:

ABOVE: Gun Violence Prevention advocates and Rep. Dianne Herrin in Harrisburg
Tuesday,  April 26th was advocacy day for UUJusticePA and CeaseFirePA in Harrisburg.  Roughly 200 advocates from all over the state came to Harrisburg to rally and personally lobby their state legislators to support, cosponsor and push for the policies of the ‘Common Agenda’:
  • Universal Background Checks
  • ERPO
  • 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
We had a car pool of six, and met up with two other friends, so we stayed together to meet with two legislative offices and drop in on three more. The Capitol building is very beautiful classic piece of architecture. It has an old section from the early 1900s, dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt, and a new section where most of the Chester County legislators were. My experience was that it was fun to go from office to office, on the chance that we would be meeting legislators from Chester County.  
Our greatest success was dropping in on Rep. Dianne Herrin, who welcomed us with open arms even though we did not have a meeting. We shared personal stories of gun violence trauma, and asked her to sign onto two bills as a cosponsor. She immediately agreed to cosponsor Lost and Stolen HB980, and Safe Storage HB237. Then we had a picture taken with her (see above), as she promised to put it on her social media. Though we were rained on for a little while, the rally in front of the Capitol did not dampen the spirits of those who attended. Included were mothers with wrenching stories of loss, and teenagers who talked about classmates taken away by gun violence. Gov. Wolf spoke, as did an emergency room doctor, and a number of State Legislators. In particular, PA Rep. Todd Stephens (R), who wrote and sponsors the ERPO bill in the PA House, spoke urgently about ERPO being a way for families to protect their loved ones from suicide. I shook his hand as he left, and told him how impressed I was by his being a Republican who wrote a Gun Safety bill. He represents what reducing Gun Violence should be about: a health and safety issue that the majority of Pennsylvanians want, not a partisan issue that inflames and divides. All in all, a good day for all who participated.


“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.”

Read this special edition!


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




The Recent Success of Chester, PA: 45% Reduction in Gun Violence


Though 2021 saw little legislative success in the area of reducing gun violence in Pennsylvania, there was some success in 
reducing inner city gun violence. The city of Chester (Delaware County) reduced its gun violence by an impressive 45% last year!
GunSenseUs, the grassroots GVP group in Chester County, recently had a Zoom meeting with representatives of two organizations
actively working to reduce gun violence in the city of Chester. Chester has had a gun violence problem for years,
and with the help of the Chester Community Coalition, and the Chester Peace Initiative, the city has made real progress.
If you wish to learn more about these two fine organizations, here are their websites:


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

To learn more, visit


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.





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



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!



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.


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



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




“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!