Sep 27, 2022 - News

Mayor Jim Kenney issues order banning guns at Philadelphia rec centers

No firearms signs posted at Philadelphia recreation centers.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Mayor's Office

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued an executive order Tuesday banning firearms from recreation centers and playgrounds in a move that could trigger legal debate about whether the city can write its own gun laws.

Driving the news: The order, intended to protect more than 1,700 of the city's recreation workers, comes on the heels of the funeral for Tiffany Fletcher.

  • The Parks and Recreation employee and mother of three was struck by a stray bullet while working at the Mill Creek recreation center in West Philly on Sept. 9. A 14-year-old is facing a murder charge in the shooting.

Between the lines: Kenney expects a potential challenge to his executive order because of the state's preemption law that makes it virtually impossible for municipalities to create and enforce their own gun laws.

Flashback: Philadelphia lawmakers tried in 2019 to push a statewide ban on guns at recreation centers but the measure stalled in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

  • The city also challenged the legal standing in a suit in 2020 that remains ongoing, according to the Inquirer.

What's happening: The city will begin posting signs about the weapons ban at its 159 recreation centers.

  • Kenney's ban applies to all buildings, courts, fields, playgrounds and pools, but there are exceptions that allow law enforcement and security staff to be armed at the facilities, officials said.

By the numbers: Philly is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into anti-violence initiatives this year, as the city inches closer to 2021's record number of homicides, with 400 homicides to date.

  • There have been more than 300 gun-related incidents at recreation centers since 2019, and at least 18 this year, city officials said.

What they're saying: City Parks and Recreation director Kathryn Ott Lovell said "safe spaces" for youth and families have too often been transformed into bloody "scenes of gun battles."

  • "How can we support and uplift the children of our city when our own recreation facilities are so often under fire?" she asked at a press conference Tuesday.

Kenney is blaming state lawmakers for not taking decisive action to protect Pennsylvanians from gun violence.

  • "We live in an insane state," Kenney said.

The bottom line: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Tuesday that anyone who brings firearms to recreation centers will face trespassing offenses in addition to weapons charges.

  • "Even if you have a permit to carry and you go on those premises, then you have a problem with me," he said.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more