Philadelphia, September 26, 2019 – Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), supported by other members of City Council, introduced legislation today to prohibit firearms and other deadly weapons from Philadelphia recreation centers and playgrounds.
Following a series of shootings at playgrounds and recreation facilities over the summer, Council President Clarke announced a renewed effort to prohibit guns and other deadly weapons at playgrounds and recreation centers. Clarke called the effort a new “Safe Havens Law” to protect children and families from gunfire. Clarke and Council colleagues made clear they need support from Harrisburg to enable the new law to take effect in Philadelphia.
“We cannot sit idly by as gunfire disrupts the safe havens that our city rec centers and playgrounds must be,” Council President Clarke said. “We’re taking action in Philadelphia to prohibit guns and other deadly weapons at any recreation facility in our city, and our delegation in Harrisburg is focused on similar steps to enable our public safety efforts. We own and operate these rec centers and playgrounds, and we have every right to set reasonable regulations to protect our kids and adults from harm.”
Council President Clarke had the Safe Havens ordinance introduced with support from Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), chair of Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
“Our city government is investing significant public funds in the Rebuild effort to revitalize our neighborhood recreation centers, to make them welcoming places for children and families to recreate,” said Councilmember Bass. “If we don’t ensure our rec centers and playgrounds are safe, our citizens won’t come and enjoy them. We need a Safe Havens law now.”
Council President Clarke noted that work has been ongoing in Harrisburg since the summer to have companion legislation introduced in the Capitol that will enable Philadelphia to take this local step to prohibit guns at rec centers and playgrounds.
State Rep. Donna Bullock (D-195th) is leading efforts in Harrisburg for a Safe Havens law.
Rep. Bullock said her staff planned to introduce legislation in Harrisburg this fall that will enable Philadelphia to take this legislative 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 at city recreation centers,” Rep. Bullock said. “Members of the Philadelphia delegation are working closely with Council President Clarke and City Council on a number of public safety initiatives to curb gun violence in our city.”
A series of incidents of gun violence have taken place at playgrounds and recreation facilities since the summer. In June, six people were shot, one fatally, at the Finnegan Playground in Southwest Philadelphia following a graduation party and cookout. In July, seven people were wounded by gunfire at the Baker Playground in Overbrook during a basketball tournament. On July 24, the day Council President Clarke, Rep. Bullock and others held a news conference unveiling the Safe Havens idea at the Mander Rec Center in Strawberry Mansion, a shooting happened later that evening — at the same rec center.
Last weekend, gunfire disrupted a high school football game in North Philadelphia, when two teenaged boys were shot and wounded. The game, between Simon Gratz and Imhotep High Schools, was being played at the Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium in the Nicetown-Tioga section. The shooting happened outside the stadium. Hundreds of fans and family, including players for both teams, were evacuated from the stadium.
A total of 526 crimes were committed – including 18 gun crimes – at city recreation facilities 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 1,046 shootings so far in 2019, and 1,296 individuals have been arrested for illegal possession of firearms.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to stem this unacceptable amount of gun violence, and we’re going to make rec centers safe havens for every child,” Council President Clarke said.
Read the ordinance:
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