Pennsylvania Gun Laws Come Under Fire

On Monday, May 16, 2016, hundreds of gun-control supporters staged a rally at the Capitol Rotunda in support of tougher gun laws. In particular, they were urging the lawmakers toughen background checks on all sales within the Keystone State. The rally was sponsored by gun violence prevention groups CeaseFirePA and Pennsylvania United for Background Checks.

At issue are two pieces of legislation introduced this session, House Bill 1010 and Senate Bill 1049, introduced in October and November of 2015 respectively. The identical measures, authored by Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) and Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), would require sales of all guns, regardless of barrel length, be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or county sheriff. Current law applies only to short-barreled firearms and does not prohibit the private sale of long-barrel guns, such as rifles or shotguns.

Since their introduction and assignment to committees, both bills have sat untouched. HB 1010 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee on October 28, 2015, and SB 1049 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 10, 2015.

Each bill would require background checks at gun shows for each separate purchase from each different dealer. However, the background check approval would be good for subsequent purchases within a 48-hour period at that same gun show from that particular dealer that initiated the check only.

Family transfers would still be excluded from the background check requirement.

Both bills have 80 combined co-sponsors and include bipartisan support with 12 Republicans. However, it faces an uphill battle to get voted out of committee, let alone see the House or Senate floor, due to a strong Second Amendment, gun rights lobby, according to Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler).

In an interview on Fox43, Metcalfe said, “Gun control measures have no chance at passing the House. There is little chance of passing in the Senate, and absolutely no chance in House of Representatives.”

In fact, he is hosting a rally in the Capitol Rotunda on May 24 at 10 a.m. to support gun owner rights.

According to U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane, “We have dozens of gun laws already on the books that could be enforced more without adding any new laws that infringe on a law abiding citizen’s Second Amendment right.”

“Everyone knows,” McShane added, “that criminals do not buy guns through legal channels.”

We will continue to keep an eye on these two bills in the off-chance they make it out of committee and keep you informed.

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