November 10, 2021
Pennsylvania's Senate has voted to pass concealed carry legislation that would make carrying a gun without a permit legal, getting rid of the state's existing license-to-carry system.
The GOP-led senate voted 29-21 in favor of the bill, and it now heads to the House for consideration.
Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf said that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
Supporters of the bill said the issue is about the second amendment, but opposers expressed worries that it could continue the trend of gun violence across the state, the Morning Call reported.
The bill would also allow for open carry without a permit in Philadelphia and reduce the legal age from 21 to 18 years old.
Republican sponsor, Sen. Cris Dush of Jefferson County, said that gun owners who go through the necessary criminal background checks to obtain a firearm are the least likely to commit an offense with it.
“You make yourself a target if you have to carry open,” Dush said. “You lose the ability to defend yourself and others.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward of Westmoreland County, stated that under the current law, gun owners can carry their gun visibly on their belt without a permit, but could be charged with a felony if the weapon is concealed.
Democratic opposition cited the increasing number of gun violence-related deaths as a reason to keep the concealed carry law in place.
Chester County Senator Carolyn Comitta said 4600 people have been killed by firearms in the state over the past three years.
In particular, Philadelphia is experiencing a surge in gun violence, and in 2020 suffered through one of its worst years in recent history, with a reported 499 homicides.
In 2021, that trend is continuing, with 473 homicides already having been reported. That's an 11% increase from the same time last year.
More than 311,000 concealed carry permits were issued in the state in 2020, a 25% increase from 2019, gun regulation organization CeaseFirePA said.
Wolf said the bill was "dangerous legislation that would make Pennsylvanians less safe," and "lower the bar for unvetted, permitless people to carry hidden weapons while they walk in our streets and mingle in our communities."
Philadelphia Democrat, Sen. Nikil Saval, said if the bill becomes law, "more people will die."
Democrats proposed amendments to the bill before the final vote, but were ultimately shot down.
One such amendment would have set up a 72 hour waiting period to purchase firearms, and another would have allowed family members or police to go to court to remove firearms from a person deemed a threat.
CeaseFirePA said the bill "poses a deadly risk to the lives of Pennsylvnanians," Go Erie reported.
In Arizona, permitless concealed carry led to a 44% increase in gun-related aggravated assaults in the state over the course of six years after it was approved there in 2010.