Lawyers, guns and money: $50 million in state grants for gun crime opening to PA counties soon

Pennsylvania police and prosecutors will have a pool of $50 million from a new grant program to litigate gun violence crimes starting next month.

Part of the state’s 2022-2023 budget and funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the Gun Violence Investigation and Prosecution Grant Program application window is expected to open Sept. 1.

Bucks County Deputy District Attorney David Keightly, Jr., at a press conference last week with area lawmakers and gun safety advocates said the county would be applying for “as much as we can” to combat gun violence “with much more force and vigor going forward.”

“We don't want to just be satisfied with working backward, we want to work forward. We want to be able to use a lot of this money to figure out purchase trends, suspicious trends among people who keep buying guns and their guns keep winding up on the streets,” Keightly said.

While Keightly did not say how much the county would specifically be applying for, he did say that what funding is awarded would go toward “technology and manpower” for gun crimes.

Administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the grant is a “historic” amount of funding for “a complex and arduous task,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield.

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“Finding the solution to the gun violence crisis plaguing our communities is a complex and arduous task; however, it is one we are not giving up on. This historic, new $50 million investment will give district attorneys additional new resources to better investigate gun crimes and to prosecute those making our communities less safe,” said Santarsiero, credited by other lawmakers as the driving force behind the grants.

The $50 million in grants are part of a larger law enforcement funding package of at least $280 million earmarked from federal dollars.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-7, of Philadelphia, said the state’s budget also earmarked $105 million in grants for gun violence prevention programs and another $135 million in additional grants for police departments.

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“This is the first time that state dollars are coming in at this level to assist local prosecutors to do the work that they have to do to get the bad folks off the streets and get these guns out of circulation. Prevention, protection and prosecution,” Hughes said.

Bucks County volunteer leader for CeaseFire PA Aileen Bochanski said the $105 million prevention grants could be used in many ways to curb gun violence, including expanding co-responder programs like one the Bucks County launched Bensalem in 2020.

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Co-responder programs pair social workers with police on calls where mental or behavioral health issues may be the root problem.

Last year, the county’s pilot program in Bensalem expanded to Middletown and Falls with the help of a $424,000 state grant.

More information about the new gun violence grants can be found through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency website at

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Gun violence grant nets $50 million for PA prosecutors