proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2745

Title: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for the offense of undetectable firearms.

Description: In firearms and other dangerous articles, providing for the offense of undetectable firearms. ...

Last Action: Referred to JUDICIARY

Last Action Date: Oct 18, 2018

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Barletta Casey Debate #1 - 10/21/2018
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Pa. legislature becomes test bed for shifting sands on gun control :: 04/15/2018

For more than a decade, the Pennsylvania legislature has been the place where gun control bills went to die.  If that changes this year, it will be further evidence that the recent spate of mass shootings - and the new waves of public advocacy it has unleashed - are moving the political needle in America.

Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-Bucks County, discusses a gun control bill with members of the state House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-Bucks County, discusses a gun control bill with members of the state House Judiciary Committee.

At least, in an election year.

One of those signs occurred last month, when the state Senate voted 50-0 in favor of a bill that would require anyone who gets a final protection-from-abuse order imposed on them to surrender any guns they own.

As recently as last year, a slightly stricter version of that bill couldn't get a floor vote in the state House or Senate: in March, it passed unanimously.

A second step may have occurred Monday, as the House Judiciary Committee opened a multi-day "listening session" for members to air their own gun control proposals, and field questions or concerns.

Some saw Monday's hearing as little more than window-dressing: An exercise that could be accomplished just as easily through a topic search in the House's electronic bill room.

On the other hand, here was Committee Chair Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Lower Paxton Township, saying that he anticipates bringing several of these proposals up for committee votes this spring.

The top contenders, Marsico said, will likely be a version of the domestic violence bill that has passed the Senate, and a second proposal from Rep. Todd Stephens that would create an "extreme risk" protective order that concerned family members or law enforcement could use to win a temporary confiscation of guns from those with pressing emotional or mental health issues.

The common theme of both bills is that they target people whose behavior or mental condition has called into question - at least in the short-term - their right to bear arms, without changing the rights of everyone.

"Those two bills would probably be brought up by the committee first," Marsico said Monday, adding he'd like to see that happen this spring in order to give both a fighting chance at final passage this year.

But Marsico said he also is open to further discussion of bills barring bump stocks and other equipment designed to accelerate the firing rate of semi-automatic rifles into something like that of a machine gun; and the extension of background checks on gun buyers to private sales of rifles and other so-called "long guns."

There are a lot of steps between here and floor votes, including, Marsico said, a likely committee caucus in which he will look for what has the most support, or opposition, with the majority Republicans on his committee.

But the chairman also suggested that this time, some of these bills start with his support - a key first step.

"I think it has shifted," Marsico said afterward, of tenor of the gun debate in the legislature. "I've talked to a lot of constituents about this. A lot of friends. And I think it's shifted for them as well."

It has apparently shifted for some in the gun rights lobby, as well.

One important factor in the Senate's domestic violence debate, sources have said, was the National Rifle Association's agreement to be neutral on SB 501, which meant votes on that bill won't go into the association's grade for lawmakers.

That provides essential political cover for lawmakers, like Marsico, who like to tout their strong ratings with the NRA.

Marsico was quick to caution, though, that even if gun control bills make it through his committee, he's in no position to predict what would happen on the House floor.

Election year dynamics, especially as the November general election approaches, could have a lot to say about that.

More on Monday's discussion.

The domestic violence bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-Bucks County, would require anyone facing a final protection from abuse order to surrender his or her guns within 48 hours.

At present, courts have the discretion to order that, but only do so about 14 percent of the time, Quinn said.

Guns would have to be turned over for the duration of the order to law enforcement, a licensed gun dealer or an attorney. But in another change from existing law, surrendered guns could no longer be held by a family member or friend.

Quinn said the bill targets people at risk of committing a crime, rather than gun rights. "We are addressing the ownership of guns on a temporary basis. Only while that PFA is in place are we saying: 'Your guns are out of reach.'"

Quinn noted that in the PFA process, by definition, both sides have an opportunity to make cases to the court.

The Stephens bill, meanwhile, wold create a PFA-like process for family members or law enforcement to take when they have concerns about the mental or emotional stability of someone who hasn't otherwise committed a crime.

It is an attempt, the Montgomery County Republican said, to help prevent suicides, and the collateral damage that those on a suicide mission can sometimes inflict on others.

Five states, Stephens said, have some sort of extreme risk protection order in place already.

The fact that gun control ideas are getting a chance to breathe in Harrisburg, however, does not mean that getting bills to Gov. Tom Wolf's desk has suddenly become easy.

Rep. Paul Schemel, a Republican from Waynesboro, said after Monday's hearing he understands that pressures to do something on gun control are heavy on his colleagues in areas like the Philadelphia suburbs.

But, Schemel said, his aim will be making sure that lawmakers don't fall into the trap of "doing something" that actually does nothing but restrict law-abiding gun owners' rights.

Marsico's forums, seen as a prelude to any formal committee action, are expected to continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and then resume on Monday of next week.

http://www.pennlive.com/news/2018/04/pa_legislature_becomes_test_be.html#incart_river_index