Gun Safety Bill to Reduce Suicides, Shootings
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 people die every day from gun violence in the United States, nearly two thirds of whom are gun suicides. In Pennsylvania, there are 1,500 firearm-related deaths each year, with 62% of them being suicides.
Our hearts break daily for the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, which has become a national epidemic. We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of disturbed and dangerous people.
Last week, I introduced legislation that would temporarily remove guns from individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
Referred to as red flag or extreme risk protection order laws, my legislation, Senate Bill 90, is similar to laws that have passed in thirteen other states. The goal of these laws is to help prevent gun suicides and mass shootings.
My bill is modeled after legislation previously proposed by Representative Todd Stephens. It would allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals determined to be dangerous by a court.
Under the legislation, law enforcement, family members or household members could petition county Common Pleas Courts to issue an order temporarily prohibiting disturbed individuals from possessing a firearm. A judge would then weigh evidence presented at a hearing where the individual in question is able to be present.
If a judge orders the relinquishment of firearms, the guns can be returned to the individual after the original court order expires or after a new date is established at a subsequent hearing.
I officially introduced my red flag bill on February 14th, the one-year anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students and staff members dead. The perpetrator had demonstrated a pattern of disturbing behavior prior to the shooting, according to reports.
It is important to note that other states have had success with their red flag laws, including neighboring Maryland.
Last month, Maryland officials reported that 148 people determined to be a danger to themselves or others were ordered to relinquish firearms during the first three months of their new red flag law. Four of these individuals were deemed significant threats to Maryland schools.
In addition, a psychiatric study has shown that red flag laws reduced gun suicides by over 10% in Connecticut and by 7.5% in Indiana.
Red flag laws are clearly preventing gun tragedies in other states. This law will absolutely save lives in Pennsylvania.
More about Senate Bill 90 can be found HERE.
Spotlight on the Brandywine River Museum of Art
The Brandywine River Museum of Art is a Pennsylvania treasure that attracts 100,000 people a year from around the world. You can watch our behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, Andrew Wyeth Studio and N.C. Wyeth House and Studio in this episode of the Killion Report.
Family Medical Leave Reform Introduced
Senator Andy Dinniman and I have introduced a bill to substantially extend family medical leave provisions in Pennsylvania.
This bipartisan legislation would expand family medical leave rights to siblings, grandparents and grandchildren for the first time ever in the state.
Under the legislation, Senate Bill 140, up to six weeks of protected, unpaid leave would be provided to an employee in order to care for a terminally ill sibling, grandparent or grandchild. This would only apply if the ill relative does not have a living spouse, child over the age of 17 or parent under the age of 65 to care for them.
The family medical leave reform legislation has local roots in Chester County, resulting from the experiences of West Goshen resident Anne Marie Pearson.
In 2009, Anne Pearson’s sister, Joanne, was diagnosed with late stage gynecologic cancer and needed around-the-clock care. Joanne Pearson was unmarried, did not have children, her father was deceased and her mother was elderly.
Anne Pearson applied for family medical leave to care for her sister, but was denied because she was a sibling, which does not fit the strict definition of “family” under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Her only option to care for her sister until she passed away was to leave her job of 17 years, which she did.
The terminally ill need as much support as possible. We must ensure that more family members are able to care for their loved ones. This kind of family care is the hallmark of any compassionate society and is long overdue in Pennsylvania.
More about Senate Bill 140 can be found HERE.
Mysteries of Medicare
I’d like you to be aware of the following information from the Chester County Department of Aging Services:
Are you enrolled in Medicare or turning 65 soon? In either case, APPRISE, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (“SHIP”) of Pennsylvania, can help you to understand your health care coverage options so you can make sound choices – both when new to Medicare and on an ongoing basis. APPRISE counselors are specially-trained volunteers who can answer questions about Medicare, Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Plans, and more. Our services are confidential and unbiased. In Chester County, APPRISE operates under the Chester County Department of Aging Services. We are funded through the Administration for Community Living under the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Most people are overwhelmed by the deluge of information sent to them when they become Medicare eligible. A “Medicare 101” presentation provided by an APPRISE counselor can help you understand when and how to enroll and your options for coverage in addition to basic Medicare. Our services go beyond your initial enrollment; we can help you evaluate your coverage during the Annual Open Enrollment Period (AOEP), Oct 15 through Dec 7, help file an appeal if a claim is denied, help low income individuals apply for and navigate various assistance programs such as Medicaid and PACE, and generally answer your questions on Medicare and related health insurance. We offer one-on-one meetings with an APPRISE counselor at eleven convenient locations across Chester County (see below), and you can also contact us by phone (610-344-5004) and email (email@example.com). During AOEP we hold special counseling sessions at senior centers, libraries, and other locations.
Chester County APPRISE counseling locations and contact numbers:
Assistance for Veterans
I partner with the Pennsylvania American Legion every month to assist local veterans at my Brookhaven office. A representative from this organization will be helping veterans with issues on:
Date: Wednesday, February 27th
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: Senator Killion’s Brookhaven Office, 4110 Edgmont Avenue, Brookhaven, PA
I encourage veterans and their families who have questions about benefits and programs to schedule an appointment during these assistance hours. Appointments can be made by contacting my office at (610) 447 – 3163. This service is offered the fourth Wednesday of each month.
How I Can Help
My offices provide many services to families in our area. Here are some of the ways we can help.
How to Contact Me
Please visit my website at www.SenatorKillion.com.
I have staffed two offices in the district to provide you with top-notch constituent service and provide answers to legislative inquiries. Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Locations are noted below.
If you are having any problems with state agencies or need help with an issue relating to government, my staff and I will be happy to assist you.
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