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Credit: Son Nguyen

Several people are shot and killed every week in Philadelphia. Statewide, several people are shot and killed every day. Pennsylvania’s weak gun laws are a major catalyst of this tragic reality, and the City of Philadelphia is prohibited from enacting its own regulations.

We need action. At a press conference in Huntsman Hall on Feb. 13, I, alongside Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, announced March for Our Lives’ Pennsylvania Peace Plan. Crafted by students over the course of several months, this 27-point policy proposal tailors the national Peace Plan to fit the unique needs and political realities of Pennsylvania’s state government. Once implemented, it will cut gun deaths in half by 2030. 

Students need to show support for the Pennsylvania Peace Plan. On March 25, students from Penn and across the state will be rallying in Harrisburg and meeting with lawmakers to advance our goals. 

The proposed Pennsylvania Peace Plan is a robust, three-category plan that will make our campus, our Philadelphia community, and our state safer. One crucial category of the Plan calls for 15 policies that would raise the standards for gun ownership. This includes closing major loopholes in our background checks system, preventing interstate trafficking of guns, and requiring guns and ammunition to be stored securely. 

The second category of the Peace Plan addresses systemic causes of gun deaths. This would dismantle systems that have led to the gun violence epidemic, including the school-to-prison pipeline, inadequate mental health care, and law enforcement bias. 

The third category of the Peace Plan helps to ensure that our democracy is representative of all voices. Many officials in Harrisburg hide from gun safety voters by employing voter suppression tactics against young people and people of color. This section of the Plan removes these structural barriers to democracy by implementing an easier registration system, early voting sites, and civic education.   

In addition to its comprehensive approach to solving gun violence, the Penn community should feel attached to the Peace Plan because it was created by students, for students. It addresses one of the most critical issues we face as young people, and is designed for our involvement. 

As a Penn undergrad, I led the project team made up of students across the state, consulting with student policy experts in Pennsylvania and nationwide. On Feb. 13, we announced the plan on Penn’s campus, alongside the Pa. Attorney General and supportive students from the Philadelphia area. And on March 25, Penn students will be bused to Harrisburg (for free!) to join students across the state in asking support from our state legislators. 

This plan comes at a crucial time in the push for gun safety. In the two years since the Parkland tragedy, the United States House and states across the country have passed dozens of important new gun laws, and gun-sense candidates have replaced NRA-backed politicians in droves. 

The Peace Plan can bring that momentum to Pennsylvania this year. The environment is right for a gun safety revolution, with some legislative activity and strong executive support. And, if current leadership doesn’t follow through, our plan will help voters decide in 2020’s razor-thin state legislative elections.

Penn students, join us in Harrisburg on March 25. We need your support. More information about the Harrisburg event can be found here.

MICHAEL NEVETT is a College sophomore studying PPE. He is the Policy Director of March for Our Lives Pennsylvania. His email address is mnevett@sas.upenn.edu.

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