State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee meeting at the University of Pittsburgh on Sept. 13 to discuss gun violence impacting communities across the commonwealth from a public health perspective.
“Once we recognize a public health crisis in our commonwealth, we can act on it,” Frankel said. “We’ve seen that with opioids. We’ve seen it with Lyme disease. Unfortunately, too much of the discussion about gun violence has been about restricting or protecting gun ownership, and not enough discussion has focused on the actual health impact of easy access to these weapons.”
Frankel has proposed legislation which would allow local governments to pass their own firearms ordinances, toughen the state’s hate crime laws and strengthen gun safety policies at the state and local level.
Testifiers at the meeting included Dr. John Rozel, medical director of Re:Solve Crisis Service, and president of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry; Dr. Raquel Forsythe, director of trauma, UPMC Presbyterian; Heath Johnson, crime analysis coordinator, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; Ross Watson, violence prevention program manager, Allegheny County Health Department; and Councilperson Erika Strassburger, District 8, Pittsburgh City Council.
“Today was constructive,” Frankel said. “We heard from a number of experts and others who helped us understand what bullets can do to the human body, the family unit, the neighborhood and the state of Pennsylvania. We were able to hear from people who are in our communities, working to save lives and addressing the overwhelming damage left in the wake of every incidence of gun violence.
“It is more clear than ever that there are legislative remedies that could stop the spread of gun violence and protect communities from the trauma that accompanies every gunshot,” Frankel added. “We will not stop talking about these issues until our Republican colleagues join us in finding legislative solutions to this public health crisis.” pjc