More News:

May 23, 2023

Gun reform bills passed by Pa. House face a tougher road in GOP-controlled Senate

Democrats narrowly pushed through a proposed 'red flag law' that would allow police to seize firearms from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others. They also passed a measure to eliminate a background check exemption

Government Gun Control
Gun Reform Pennsylvania KATHERINE MCADOO/

The Pennsylvania House advanced two gun reform bills on Monday. One would allow police to seize guns from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. The other would close the 'gun show' loophole that exempts private sales of long rifles from background checks.

Pennsylvania Democrats pushing for stronger gun control laws got a moderate victory Monday, with two bills passing the state House. 

One bill would create a "red flag law" that allows police to remove legally possessed guns from people deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. The other would close the so-called "gun show" loophole that allows private sales of long guns, including shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles, without background checks. 

The bills, which must pass the Republican-controlled Senate, come as the United States is on pace to set a record for mass shootings this year.

The "gun show" loophole bill passed by a 109-92 vote, the Associated Press reported

"This is not major legislation. This is not a heavy lift," House Majority Leader Matthew Bradford of Montgomery County said on the House floor. "This is a modest bill, with a modest impact, that will have a real impact on some of the most lethal weapons in our commonwealth."

The "red flag" bill passed by a 102-99 vote. 

Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted similar laws, according to The Trace. The federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden last June after the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, included $750 million in incentives for states that created "red flag" laws. The law – the first gun control bill passed by Congress since 1994 – also included funding for mental health services and school security improvements, and enhanced background checks for buyers younger than 21. 

The two bills are unlikely to pass the state Senate. Before advancing to full votes on the Senate floor, they must be approved by the Judiciary Committee, headed by Sen. Lisa Baker, a Republican from Luzerne County.

Baker said she would review the bills, telling the Inquirer that she rejected the notion that they would be dead on arrival. 

"I have frequently said what I am looking for in potentially considering any gun-related bills: bipartisan involvement and support, full enforceability, and ensuring due process in accordance with constitutional protections," Baker said.

A third bill requiring legal gun owners to report missing or stolen firearms to the police failed to pass the state House. People who failed to report missing firearms within three days of noticing a gun was missing would have faced penalties. Repeat offenders would have been charged with a misdemeanor offense. 

A fourth bill, which would require trigger locks be purchased during long-barreled firearm purchases, was not brought up for a vote. 

In Philadelphia, most gun-related crimes are committed with stolen or straw-purchased guns, experts say. Straw purchases occurs when a person legally buys a gun with the intent of reselling or transferring it to someone who cannot pass a background check. 

"My police in the city of (Philadelphia), they want all of these pieces of legislation to help them actually fight crime," Rep. Jordan Harris, a Democrat, said during the hours-long debate on the House floor, per the Inquirer.