Gov. Tom Wolf said late Wednesday that he may call Pennsylvania’s General Assembly into a “special session” to deal with the issue of growing gun violence in the state.
A “special legislative” is convened to deal with a single topic.
Wolf said at a state Capitol anti-gun violence rally that he would urge lawmakers of both parties to consider the following:
- A so-called “Red Flag” law that would permit authorities to confiscate weapons from individuals with known mental health problems, persons with a protection from abuse order filed against them or those who may be a threat to others or themselves. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have similar statues;
- Universal background checks on all firearms purchases, including rifles and other long guns. Such background checks would be for gun dealer purchases as well as gun show and online purchases;
- A ban on military-style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Wolf said about 1,600 Pennsylvanians die annually by gunfire. That includes murders, suicides and accidents.
The governor expressed his personal support for the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which assures the right to own firearms. “But the Second Amendment is not a license to kill,” he said.
Wolf cited the recent mass-shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, a call for gun-control legislation.
Republican and Democratic legislative would be consulted before the General Assembly ends its summer recess on Sept. 16.
Wolf, a Democrat, said he wants bipartisan agreement on any gun legislation before deciding on a “special legislative session.”
“(We) could convene a special session and the legislative leaders could immediately adjourn it and do nothing,” he said.
A few state lawmakers of both parties attended the Wednesday evening event and pledged to work with Wolf on the issue.
Legislative leaders in both parties, however, were at the National Conference of State Legislatures annual convention at Nashville, Tennessee. None responded to requests for an email response to the governor’s proposal.
Senator Robert Casey, a Democrat, and his Republican counterpart, Senator Pat Toomey, are working together for a reconvening of the U.S. Senate to vote on pending firearms legislation in that chamber.