Some laws and policies put forth by gun advocates are not just bad ideas, they are dangerous. The gun lobby not only works against commonsense policies that make it harder for people who should not have guns to get them, but also works to eliminate the few good policies and procedures that Pennsylvania has in place. We must defend against these misguided and dangerous proposals and counter these bad ideas with action. Standing up to the gun lobby shows our elected officials that we are serious about change.
THE SUE OUR CITIES BILL
HB 671/SB 5 – “pre-emption”/“allow the NRA to sue our towns into submission” Bill – Each of these Bills (HB 671 in the House, SB 5 in the Senate) has passed its respective legislative body and now sits in the other body’s Judiciary committee awaiting action. If these Bills become law, they would—for the first time in our history–allow membership organizations like the NRA (as well as folks who may have never set foot in these towns, let alone suffered a provable harm as a result of the local firearms laws in question) to sue any town in Pennsylvania that enacts firearms laws differing from state laws. Even worse, the Bills then put money directly into the gun lobby’s pocket from all PA taxpayers by forcing the towns to pay the gun lobby’s legal bills if the towns lose any of the lawsuits (without requiring that the gun lobby do the same for the towns if the gun lobby and/or its supporters lose). The gun lobby may have enough votes in both Houses to override a veto from Governor Wolf, so we need to act quickly.
THE GUNS IN SCHOOLS BILL
SB 383/HB 870 – “Guns in schools” legislation that allows any school personnel (including teachers) who have concealed-carry permits (and who allegedly undergo “training”, although type of/requirements for said training are not spelled out) to bring guns into schools; however, there are no guidelines for how these guns should be stored and/or when they should/should not be used. The Senate Bill (SB 383) has passed the Senate and is currently in the House Education Committee awaiting action; the House Bill (HB 870) has only three cosponsors and has (luckily) been languishing in the Education Committee since March.
THE ELIMINATION OF PICS BILL
HB 763/SB 224 – Right now, when a Pennsylvania citizen buying a firearm goes through a background check, he/she are checked through both the PA Instant Check System (PICS) and the National Instant Check System (NICS). This bill, introduced in the Senate by Camera Bartolotta (whose district includes Beaver, Greene and Washington counties), would eliminate PICS, leaving all gun sales in the state that require *any* background check to be processed through only NICS. This needs to be stopped, not only because the records in PICS more extensive/up-to-date than those in NICS, but most importantly because, unlike NICS, under PICS, a gun dealer can refuse to sell a firearm to someone if do not clear a background check within 72 hours. In the House, the Bill has been introduced by Rep. Jason Ortitay (whose district includes Allegheny, Washington and Fayette counties):
THE EXPANSION OF “STAND YOUR GROUND”
HB 167 – Expands PA’s unbelievably dangerous “stand your ground” law by removing the requirement that the shooter must have at least believed that he/she had seen a gun in the victim’s possession prior to shooting. Instead, this Bill provides a defense for shooters who feel that there is a “disparity in size” between them and the victim or that they are threatened but outnumbered, opening up all sorts of opportunities for race-based massacres.