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Charlton Calls for Hearing Focused on Gun Violence and School Safety
HARRISBURG – Rep. Alex Charlton (R-Delaware) sent the following open letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) calling for a joint hearing directly centered around gun violence and safety in our schools:

“I write to request that the Education, Health, Judiciary, and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees convene in the immediate future to hold a special joint hearing directly focused on the issue of gun violence and safety in our schools.

“The only way we as a society and a Commonwealth will be able to break through the rhetoric and divisiveness is by addressing the issue from every angle with experts being provided the opportunity to help the legislature draft meaningful reform measures. We can all concede that there is no one, single solution and we must examine the issues of mental health, school safety and security, emergency response procedures, and firearm access.

“It is often reported that the perpetrators of these mass shootings have exhibited a prior history of mental health concerns. How can we better address these signs to provide them with the mental health counseling they require? What are the exhibited behaviors that our school administrators and teachers should be aware of and how should they be reported? If a credible concern is raised, how are the proper authorities alerted, and once alerted what abilities do they have to follow-up?

“The mental health of these individuals cannot be ignored. It’s not the mind of a typical person that thinks such atrocious violence is acceptable.

“There has been no shortage of proposals in recent years to address the safety of our schools, from elimination of Gun Free Zones and allowing select personnel to carry a firearm or hiring armed guards to introducing metal detectors, reinforced doors, and bullet-proof glass. Our schools are a sacred place of learning and development. How do we juxtapose that with the looming threats of violence we have seen enacted on these safe havens?

“What more can we expect of our schools’ administrators and teachers to protect our children or notice the early warning signs of violent behavior?

“Our nation and Commonwealth have numerous laws already enacted that are designed to protect our communities from violent actors. We need to examine the existing laws, understand if they are effective, and if not, how do we make them so. Should laws be created that allows law enforcement and judges the right to preclude someone from purchasing a firearm before any crime has been committed?

“If someone has been identified as being potentially violent, does law enforcement or the courts have an ability to prevent them from acting out violently in a manner other than with firearms?

“At all times we must respect everyone’s right to due process. What is the balance between the freedoms we hold dear and the protections we expect in a civilized society?

“One of the greatest challenges for our emergency response personnel in an instance of a mass shooting is that they are often unable to respond rapidly enough, and once on the scene, they struggle in the midst of chaos to fully understand who the victims are and who the perpetrators are. What tools are they lacking to help them in this? How can we better align our schools and our emergency responders to coordinate and streamline their response to both care for the injured and subdue the offender?

“I do not profess to have the answers to these questions. Indeed, I doubt any one person has the answers to these questions. This is a complex issue that will require the full investment of Pennsylvania’s legislature. But as with all legislation that comes before us, the process begins with the committees.

“I hope that serious consideration of this request will be made. lt is near unanimous that something must be done and it our responsibility as legislators to address that something. To paraphrase an often used quote: “If not us, who? If not now, when?””

Representative Alexander Charlton
165th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Mike Madry
717.260.6587 /

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