Students Rally For Safe Schools And Communities As House Advances Gun Control Bills

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) – Today, students and advocates rallied for safer communities and for an end to gun violence. Many students were from the city of Philadelphia, which has already seen 142 homicides in 2023. 

“Violence, it traumatizes a lot of kids,” said Keyanna Nurse, an 18-year-old senior at Paul Robeson High School in Philadelphia. 
Nurse, alongside dozens of students and advocates with “Forget Me Knot” in Philadelphia, made their voices heard at the state Capitol.  
“We feel like we aren’t getting as heard as we want to. Listen to youth. Listen to the students. The students know what they want,” said Nurse. 
Nurse believes it’s hard for adults to relate to the challenges and fears that many students currently face, not just in Philadelphia, but around the country. She says every student has the right to feel safe at school, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.  

“That’s where people find their peace- at school. I know that’s where I find my peace,” said Nurse. “People from our schools and our communities, they sometimes have to look over their shoulder. They’re not comfortable. Kids aren’t allowed to play on the streets anymore – we used to go to the playground, go to parties, go to football games, basketball games- because it’s always something,” Nurse added. 

Today’s rally comes as multiple gun control bills make their way through the House. The four-bill package, recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee along party lines, includes:  
  • HB 338: Requiring lost or stolen firearms to be reported within three days- Failure to report to law enforcement within 72 hours of the discovery could result in a summary offense. 
  • HB 714: Expanded background checks- the bill would also close the “gun show” loophole and end an exception for the private sales of shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles. 
  • HB 731: Safe storage requirements- All firearm sales would need to include a locking device to ensure safe storage of the firearm. 
  • HB 1018: Extreme risk protection orders (Red flag law)- would allow a judge to order authorities to temporarily seize firearms from someone if asked by family members or police.  
Many Republicans say these bills don’t address the root cause of the issue and that they restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners. They want to see the current laws enforced before new ones are created. 
In response to a similar gun safety rally earlier this spring, spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus said Pennsylvania’s gun background check system is one of the best in the country. 
The four-bill package could see a vote when the House returns later this month. If or when the bills pass, they face a very tough road in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

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