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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 3, 2020 12:26 PM
From: Senator John P. Sabatina, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: End the Shootings in Philly - Increase Penalty for Illegal Firearm Possession in First Class Cities
Soon, I plan to re-introduce legislation that would increase the grading for illegally carrying a firearm in Philadelphia under Title 18, Section 6108 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The bill would increase the grading to a third-degree felony and adds a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years. Current law constitutes this offense as a misdemeanor of the first degree. 

Unfortunately, existing law and enforcement for firearm violations have proven too lax. Staggering statistic show the reality of gun violence in Philadelphia. As of December 3rd of this year, there have been 2079 victims of shootings in Philadelphia.[1] Sadly, this number will likely grow before the end of the year, as shootings take place on what seems to be a daily basis across the City.  

Philadelphia Police have acknowledged the spike in the number of illegally carried firearms from prior years. As data shows a spike of 36% in firearms violations, including illegal possessions: from 2019 (2,335) to 2020 YTD (3,172). The average annual offense data shows an even more shocking trend, comparing ‘14-17 data to ‘18-’20 data we see a jump of 60% in firearm offenses. [2] 

There is no denying the correlation between illegally possession of firearms and shootings in the City. This blatant disregard for illegally carrying a firearm in Philadelphia must be addressed for the safety of its residents and families. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation. 

[1] Interactive: Mapping Philadelphia's Gun Violence Crisis - Office of the Controller
[2] Incidents - PhilaDAO Data Dashboard

Introduced as SB497