Kenney Signs Executive Order Banning Guns at Philly Rec Centers

The mayor's office said signing the executive order banning weapons at rec centers, playgrounds, and athletic fields is scheduled for Tuesday morning

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday signed an executive order banning guns at city recreation facilities, as the city looks to take another step to help ease its rampant gun violence crisis.

The executive order bans weapons at rec centers, playgrounds, pools and athletic fields and courts. Violating the order means that not only would offenders be charged with any applicable gun crimes, but they would also face trespassing charges, District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

“Even if you have a permit to carry and you go on those premises, then you have a problem with me,” Krasner warned.

Andrew Richmond, with the city’s law department, said the executive order reflects the city’s belief that it has the authority to limit guns on its own property. Kenney, however, acknowledged that the state is likely to challenge the rule, but said that “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying.”

Due to Pennsylvania’s preemption law, Philadelphia is legally barred from enacting gun control measures that would impose stronger restrictions or penalties on residents than what state law enforces.

The city has unsuccessfully challenged the preemption law in court. Nonetheless, city officials say they see signs that future lawsuits could be successful.

According to police, there have been 18 shootings at or near recreation centers in the city so far this year. Since 2019, there have been nearly 300 incidents of gun violence at parks and rec facilities, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said.

“Our facilities are staffed by public servants who care deeply for their own communities and who mentor all young people who come through their gate as if they were their own. But too often recently our recreation centers and playgrounds have become the scene of gun battles, violence and senseless loss of life,” Ott Lovell said.

The announcement of the executive order came Monday, the same day as a parks and rec employee, who was killed when she was struck by a stray bullet, was laid to rest. Loved ones of Tiffany Fletcher said the new ban is a start.

"As long as we know you’re working to keep the guns away," said Taaijah Henderson, Fletcher's cousin. "A start always means you’re trying.”

Fletcher's family and friends remembered her Monday night outside of Mill Creek Recreation Center in West Philadelphia. It’s the exact location where she lost her life, caught in crossfire, while performing her duties at a city playground earlier this month.

"You can’t even walk to the store, or like my cousin, you can even work without running or losing your life," Henderson said. "It’s just crazy. Philly is crazy. We just got to come together, stick together.”

On Tuesday, there were at least 400 homicides in Philadelphia in 2022, according to Philadelphia police data. That's down 1% from the same time last year, which was the deadliest on record in the city.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.

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