Gov. Tom Wolf rallied Friday with fellow lawmakers, clergy, students, and gun violence prevention activists in Philadelphia, calling for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass more stringent gun laws in the wake of the Texas school shooting that killed 19 children and two adults.

“Our message to our legislators in Congress and Pennsylvania’s General Assembly needs to be: Do your jobs,” Wolf, a Democrat, said to applause and a sea of orange CeaseFirePA T-shirts.

Wolf said the Republican-controlled state legislature for years has stymied the passage of “commonsense legislation” in the commonwealth. He urged lawmakers to: require reporting for lost and stolen guns within 72 hours, close loopholes and require background checks on all gun sales, require safe storage of firearms, and create “red flag laws” to protect those who may be a danger to themselves or others.

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The renewed demand for action came days after the Uvalde massacre — the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, and the 27th school shooting in the country this year — and two weeks after 10 Black people were shot to death in a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in a killing reportedly motivated by a racist conspiracy theory.

In Philadelphia, where gun violence is often unrelenting, shootings have surged in the past years with killings reaching record levels in 2021.

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Standing behind a podium with microphones at eye level and a sign reading “more graduations, fewer funerals,” two middle school students from Eugenio Maria De Hostos Charter School in North Philadelphia told the group that “teachers and students should be able to come to work every day and not worrying for their safety.”

“We are scared, frustrated, and exhausted,” said 11-year-old Jordyn Rivera. “We want to live our lives, free of gun violence.”

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“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor. He noted it was not long ago that a crowd had assembled in the same location, Congregation Rodeph Shalom on Broad Street, mourning the victims of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life mass shooting.

“This is a moment where every leader needs to stand up and say what they are for,” he said, calling for universal background checks, closing gun loopholes, and putting mental health counselors in every school.

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“If we don’t take out a mirror in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and look at ourselves and see how complicit we are with inaction, it is a shame,” said state Rep. Joanna McClinton, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader, whose district includes parts of Delaware County and Philadelphia. She pointed to House Democrats’ attempt this week to force a vote on banning assault weapons, which was knocked down by the Republican-controlled House. “They refuse to do anything, but we are here once again to sound the alarm.”

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House Republicans have taken a “proactive approach” to school safety, Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, said in a statement.

Gottesman pointed to Pennsylvania’s gun background check laws, $200 million in school safety grant appropriations, and a program that allows students to privately report violence concerns.

“Ensuring safe communities here in Pennsylvania remains one of our top priorities and we are committed to a continued, productive, and reasonable discussion over ways to achieve that goal,” Gottesman said.

Speakers and advocates from Philadelphia described the incessant and far-reaching effects of gun violence in the city. State Sen. Sharif Street shared stories of his own children attending funerals for different friends lost to bullets on the same day, and said his own office was recently caught in gunfire.

“That is the reality for people who live in Philadelphia,” Street said. “And it doesn’t happen once in a while, it happens all the time.”

It’s the grim reality that confronted Caprice Cowan, 18, when her 22-year-old cousin, Rasheen Robinson ‘Nas’, was fatally shot in his car at a gas station in March.

Cowan said that weeks before Robinson’s death, the two had wrapped performances of their youth stage play in Germantown — a series of vignettes about young people and gun violence.

“It shouldn’t be like that, kids should be able to go out and enjoy their lives. ... School is supposed to be a place for kids to grow and learn and form friendships, not where they can get injured,” said Cowan, who now volunteers with the City of Dreams Coalition activist group in hopes of quelling shootings. “And honestly, enough is enough. What’s the point of having all this power if you’re not making use of it?”