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June 03, 2017

Bipartisan bill would require universal background checks for Pennsylvania gun sales

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have put forth legislation that would tighten Pennsylvania's gun laws.

Three state representatives, two Democrats and a Republican, wrote House Bill 1400, which was introduced earlier in May. The bill would require background checks for all firearm sales with the exception of certain gun transfers.

“This is not about stepping on anyone’s Second Amendment right, this is strictly about common sense,” said Rep. Jamie Santora, R-Delaware, during a press conference.

Rep. Madeline Dean, D-Montgomery, another author of the bill, said the law would close the loophole that allows for the purchase of so-called long guns without background checks. Long guns include such popular assault rifles as the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, which has been used in mass shootings like in Newtown and Orlando.

Dean cited polls that show an overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks.

“The majority of sportsmen and gun owners that I have spoken to agree with universal background checks for the purchase of any firearm," said Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, the third author of the bill.

CeaseFirePA, an organization that pushes for gun law reforms, praised the bill, saying it would "help keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them."

"This is a bill that gun owners and non-gun owners alike should support," the group said in a statement.

Under the proposed law, concealed carry permit holders would be allowed to get multi-day background checks for gun shows.

The exception isn't enough to please the National Rifle Association, however, as the powerful gun rights organization said the law would be "unenforceable" and only hurt "law-abiding citizens."

"By criminalizing otherwise lawful transfers, this bill could unknowingly turn a law-abiding person into a criminal," the NRA claimed. "For example, simply loaning a firearm to a friend could turn a law-abiding gun owner into a criminal overnight."