Philadelphia, July 24, 2019 – City Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District), flanked by members of City Council and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, announced a joint legislative effort today to prohibit firearms and other deadly weapons from being possessed at Philadelphia parks and recreation centers.
Following several incidents of gun violence at city playgrounds in recent weeks, Council President Clarke announced a renewed effort to prohibit guns and other deadly weapons at city recreational facilities. This time, state legislators are part of the city’s efforts and promised similar efforts in Harrisburg.
“We cannot sit idly by as gunfire erupts and disrupts the safe havens that our city rec centers and playgrounds are,” Council President Clarke said. “We’re taking legislative action in Philadelphia to prohibit guns and other deadly weapons at any recreation facility in our city, and our legislative delegation in Harrisburg is focused on similar action to enable our public safety efforts. We own and operate these rec centers and parks, and we have every right to set reasonable rules and regulations to protect our kids and adults from harm.”
Council President Clarke was joined today at the Mander Recreation Center in Strawberry Mansion by City Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), chair of Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee and by state legislators – Rep. Donna Bullock (195th District), Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (190th) and Sen. Vincent Hughes (7th District).
Rep. Bullock said her staff was planning to introduce state legislation in Harrisburg this fall that will enable Philadelphia to take this legislation action locally to prohibit firearms at city recreation centers.
“If the Commonwealth allows us to prohibit firearms in courtrooms, then it should permit Philadelphia to prohibit guns and other deadly weapons at city recreation facilities,” Rep. Bullock said. “Members of the Philadelphia delegation are working closely with Council President Clarke and all of City Council on a number of public safety initiatives to curb gun violence in our city.”
City Council and the Mayor’s Office approved legislation in 2013 that prohibited firearms at city recreation facilities, but there was no similar legislative step in Harrisburg, and the city law was not enforced. Harrisburg support in the form of enabling legislation is essential as Philadelphia takes action to protect its citizens from gun violence.
Two incidents of gun violence erupted at city playgrounds in the last month. In June, six people were shot, one fatally, at the Finnegan Playground in Southwest Philadelphia following a graduation party and cookout. Earlier this month, seven people were wounded by gunfire at the Baker Playground in Overbrook during a basketball tournament.
A total of 526 crimes were committed – including 18 gun crimes – at city recreation centers in 2018, according to data supplied to City Council in May by the Parks and Recreation Department. Two murders were committed at city recreation facilities last year.
Citywide, there have been 639 shootings so far in 2019, and 820 individuals have been arrested for illegal possession of firearms.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to stem this tide of gun violence in our city, and we’re going to make city recreation centers safe havens for every child in our city,” Council President Clarke said.
Read Council’s ordinance.
# # #
Watch the press conference.