proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2977

Title: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for civil liability of firearm owner for loss or theft.

Description: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for civil liability of firearm owner for loss or theft. ...

Last Action: Referred to JUDICIARY

Last Action Date: Nov 30, 2020

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Local state reps wary of proposed state ban on bump stocks :: 10/13/2017

The national debate about gun control took a turn after the National Rifle Association endorsed new restrictions on a device that sped up gunfire in the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month that left 58 dead and hundreds injured in a matter of minutes.

The device, called a bump stock, helped Stephen Paddock fire semiautomatic weapons with a speed similar to a fully automatic gun, and Paddock fitted bump stocks on at least a dozen of the 23 firearms in his hotel room before firing on concertgoers from the 32nd floor window of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

In reaction to the Las Vegas massacre, state Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, and Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, announced last week their plan to introduce legislation to update the state’s definition of “offensive weapons” to include firearm modifications that aid in rapid firing.

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code currently bans “offensive weapons,” which includes grenades, bombs, machine guns and sawed-off shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches.

Violation of this section carries a penalty of a first-degree misdemeanor.

The proposed legislation would add “multiburst trigger activators” to the list of offensive weapons, includes bump stocks and binary triggers.

Local state representatives are wary of the legislation, citing what they view as its ultimate futility in preventing mass shootings.

“Sadly, evil exists in this world, and legislators — no matter how much they may wish to do so — will never solve that problem,” Rep. Matt Dowling, R-Uniontown, said in an emailed statement.

Dowling did, however, note that, like the NRA, he was willing to support the idea of a bump stock ban. Still, he added, he would wait to see the actual language of the bill before deciding whether to sponsor it or not, saying that it was being proposed by “two of the most liberal members of the legislature.”

Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis, said that any ban on bump stocks should come from the federal level, citing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, specifying that Congress or Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could address the issue.

“It always amazes me that the same politicians who want to ban certain firearms are also the same politicians who openly defend illegal immigration,” Warner added in an emailed statement. “If you won’t make a stand to stop illegal immigrants from entering our country, do you really believe that you’ll be able to stop illegal firearms from coming in?”

Warner indicated that mass shootings were a sign of a “heart problem” and not a “gun problem,” adding that he endorsed focusing on restoring “our nation’s deteriorating morals” and addressing mental health issues.

“In the 1940s, you could buy a Thompson submachine gun at any local hardware store without identification,” Warner said. “And the awful crimes that are occurring today were not an issue back then.”

Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, said she would review the legislation and any others that come before the state House of Representatives before making an informed decision.

“I believe the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is taking the lead, since the tragedy in Las Vegas, to determine the best way to approach this issue,” Snyder said in an emailed statement. “I think it is important that what they determine regarding bump stocks be consistent across the country.”

Reps. Bud Cook, R-Coal Center, and Justin Walsh, R-Rostraver Township, could not be reached for comment.

The ATF has said it only has the power to ban devices that cause multiple bullets to be fired when the trigger is pulled, like machine guns. The agency has found that current bump stocks on the market are legal because they only speed the triggering of a gun rather than convert it to shoot multiple bullets per pull.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday supported a state ban on bump stocks. Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, has also announced plans to introduce legislation banning bump stocks in Pennsylvania.

“Our law enforcement officers should never have to face someone using a weapon that they cannot compete with or defend themselves against,” Costa said in a press release announcing plans to introduce a ban on multiburst trigger activators.

“I think that comment shows that the liberal left will do anything - and use any tragedy — to fulfill their agenda of taking away our freedoms,” Dowling replied. “Criminals do not care if weapons are legal or no, that’s what makes them criminals. Our police already face situations where they are out weaponed or out numbered. We can’t guess the future, and our police know that; that’s what makes them heroic every day for just going to work.”

“I highly doubt that a criminal trying to murder a police officer is going to care if his gun is illegal or not,” Warner said.