Guns, Seized Guns

Legislation Crafted to Keep Young People Out of Gangs


Dominic Pileggi

State Senator Dominic Pileggi

A trio of southeastern Pennsylvania lawmakers is introducing a bill designed to prevent gang violence before it starts  The bill would make it a criminal offense to recruit gang members in Pennsylvania.  “It will give law enforcement a tool to stop people from trying to recruit young folks into gang activity,” says Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester/Delaware).

The new offense could be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how the recruitment takes place.  Simply soliciting someone to join a gang would be a first-degree misdemeanor.  The addition of threats or intimidation would bump the offense up to a third-degree felony, and there would be a sentencing enhancement if bodily harm were involved.

Senator Pileggi tells us the bill was born out of discussions with Chester County DA Thomas Hogan, who is currently prosecuting a dozen teens and young adults for offenses related to the stabbing deaths of two rival gang members.

Listen to Hogan’s comments at this week’s news conference in Chester County:HOGAN

Sen. Pileggi says Pennsylvania’s behind the times on this issue.  “We found at least 20-states, including our neighbors in Delaware and New Jersey that have very similar laws in place now.”  He says the bill will be up for discussion this fall, and believes it could see action before the end of the legislative session.

Senators John Rafferty (R-Montgomery/Chester) and Ted Erickson (R-Delaware/Chester) are also a part of the legislative push.

“National Night Out” Less Than Two Weeks Away

Some 36-million people, in 15,000 communities will take part in National Night Out (NNO) festivities on August 2nd.  NNO founder Matt Peskin is executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, which is based in Wynnewood, PA.  Now in its 28th year, Peskin says National Night Out is still growing.  “Each year we pick up some more cities and towns, which were either not aware of it, or not able to participate in the past,” says Peskin, who has seen NNO evolve from front porch vigils into massive community celebrations. 

The goal behind National Night Out is still to build communities and reduce crime.  Peskin says it’s the result of neighbors interacting with neighbors, and neighbors interacting with police officers in a non-threatening environment.  “Neighbors get to see that police are just people too and if something’s wrong, they feel a little bit more comfortable picking the phone up the next day and calling them,” Peskin explains.

National Night Out was a nationwide event from its launch in 1984, but you can find a litany of NNO events here in Peskin’s home state of Pennsylvania.  From Alburtis (Lehigh County) to Worthington (Armstrong County), NNO festivities are planned for towns big and small on August 2nd

With the current state of the economy, Peskin says this year is a great time to get involved with your local National Night Out.  “It’s good to know that there are people around you that you can count on, and one thing you want is a safe neighborhood.”