Cephas, Bullock fight to pass gun violence prevention bill as Philly's homicide rate surges

With Philadelphia's homicide rate already surpassing the numbers from 2019, state Reps. Morgan Cephas and Donna Bullock are fighting to provide critical support for gun violence prevention. 

"Too many lives are being cut short because of this public health crisis, especially our young people," said Cephas, D-Phila. "We have a responsibility as legislators to connect our communities with the tools and resources they need to help stop the bloodshed. Part of that is expanding upon prevention ideas that have worked in strengthening neighborhood safety."

Cephas said their bill (H.B. 2717) would create a competitive grant program, known as the Violence Intervention Program, for municipalities that have been disproportionally impacted by gun violence. 

VIP grants would be awarded to eligible applicants from a fund of $30 million for three years and be administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to support, expand and replicate proven and effective community-based violence reduction initiatives. 

"Balloons and candles should signify a joyous occasion, but in my neighborhood, they are symbols of remembrance for the lives lost to gun violence," said Bullock, D-Phila. "As a mother of two young boys, I won't sit back and accept these constant shootings as the norm. This is just another commonsense proposal we're pushing to protect our men, women and children from the senseless killings that have ravaged our city for far too long." 

Bullock said applicants would need to include detailed plans and coordinate with existing violence prevention and intervention programs and service providers in their community. 

Philadelphia has recorded at least 364 homicides in 2020.