Nov. 17, 2021

HARRISBURG—The House has passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) asking the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to conduct an investigation into the prosecution and sentencing of violations of the Uniform Firearms Act across the state.

“Sadly, each day, those of us in the Philadelphia area witness the bloodshed that has overcome the City of Brotherly Love,” Stephens said.

According to the City of Philadelphia, as of Nov. 15 there have been 1,570 nonfatal and 391 fatal shooting victims in the City of Philadelphia this year. By way of comparison, in all of 2015, there were 1,029 nonfatal and 229 fatal shooting victims. While shootings have skyrocketed, the conviction rate has plummeted. The conviction rate for violations of the Uniform Firearms Act fell from 71% in 2015 to 53% in 2020, according to media reports.

“These are shocking numbers,” Stephens said.

House Resolution 111 directs the bipartisan Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to review the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of Uniform Firearms Act violation cases by police departments and district attorneys offices from 2015-20 and report its findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives. The commission is required to deliver its findings to the General Assembly by June 30, 2022.

Data from the PA Commission on Sentencing, which Stephens chairs, shows Philadelphia and other counties routinely sentence below recommended levels for violent criminals who use firearms.

“Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has argued that the Philadelphia criminal justice system has become a ‘revolving door’ for repeat gun offenders,” Stephens said. “This senseless loss of life must end, and we must undertake a concerted effort to address the rise in violent crime both in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth. That must begin with an accurate accounting of how gun crimes are adjudicated.”

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives