In response to a series of high-profile shootings in public places over the summer, City Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilwoman Cindy Bass on Thursday introduced legislation that would ban guns from Philadelphia recreation centers and playgrounds.
To take effect, however, state lawmakers would have to pass legislation authorizing Philadelphia to enforce the bill, a long shot in gun-friendly Harrisburg. Courts have negated previous attempts by Philadelphia to strengthen gun regulation, saying state government preempts cities’ authority on that issue.
Clarke said Thursday he was “marginally optimistic” that Republicans, who control the legislature, will be more open than they have been.
“I was up there Monday talking to legislators," he said. "I talked to some of the key Republicans. There was obviously no commitment but a willingness to listen to what is clearly, from our perspective, a no-brainer: prohibiting weapons at a rec center.”
Two Philadelphia Democrats, Sen. Vincent Hughes and Rep. Donna Bullock, will introduce bills that would authorize the city to enforce the proposal, Clarke said.
Clarke pointed out that the state prohibits guns in courthouses, which is why City Hall, which houses municipal system and Court of Common Pleas courtrooms, is gun-free.
“What’s different in protecting witnesses, judges, and lawyers as opposed to protecting children?” Clarke said.
Bass said the reaction to the string of high-profile mass shootings across the country makes her optimistic that authorizing legislation can pass.
“Today, Sept. 26 this year, we have a better chance than we had Sept. 26 of last year and the years before that,” she said. “This is a good time to revisit the conversation, and I think that there is potential.”