McClinton addresses urban gun violence before House Judiciary Committee

HARRISBURG, April 20 – During a series of hearings on gun violence this week before the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, addressed the disparity in coverage of gun violence between low-income communities of color and more affluent majority-white communities.

During her testimony, McClinton, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, called on the committee to acknowledge gun violence as a public health crisis just like opioids, immediately advance legislation that would keep guns out of the wrong hands, and provide adequate funding for prevention programs and to the Office of the Attorney General for its Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

She said, “While it took tragedies like the Parkland and Las Vegas shootings to gather us here today, I would like to remind everyone that communities of color in Philadelphia, Delaware, Berks, Dauphin, Cambria and Allegheny counties have been victims of gun violence for decades.

“In fact, the Center for American Progress reports that African-Americans and Hispanics represent nearly 79 percent of all gun homicides in Pennsylvania. From 2005 to 2014, Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for the rate of gun deaths among African-Americans. Although African-Americans make up about 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s population, they account for nearly 70 percent of gun homicides in our commonwealth. Moreover, Pennsylvania ranked second in the nation for the highest gun death rate of Hispanics, second only to Arizona.”

While most of the testimonies focused on gun violence as public safety and mental health issues, McClinton argued that it was neither, but rather a gun issue.

She said, “Just last year, 570 Pennsylvanians were victims of homicide by a firearm – 259 of these homicides took place in Philadelphia. While nearly one in every two gun-related homicides took place in Philadelphia County, gun violence is wreaking havoc throughout Pennsylvania.

“This is not a public safety issue. This is not a mental health issue. This is a gun issue. We must work toward keeping firearms out of the wrong hands. This does not mean we want to take away everyone’s guns. We only want to make sure that responsible, law-abiding citizens have access to firearms. And so should you.”