Governor Corbett signed the straw purchaser bill into law
After thousands of emails urging action were sent to the Senate and Governor Corbett, HB 898 was signed into law last week. When it goes into effect this December, prosecutors across Pennsylvania will have a powerful new tool to lock up straw purchasers.
Just like it's important that elected officials hear our voices when considering legislation, it's equally important that they hear from us when they make the right decision. Sign our note at the right, thanking Governor Corbett for taking the final step to pass this bill into law.
We're not alone celebrating this bill - check out what newspapers across PA are saying (click image to share on Facebook):
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Gun progress: Finally a firearms bill that doesn't scare lawmakers
October 27, 2012 - It has long seemed that pigs would fly before the state Legislature passed a sensible bill on lost and stolen guns and the governor signed it. Of course, if pigs did fly, someone from the National Rifle Association would try to shoot them down.
But the seemingly impossible has happened and the NRA unsuccessfully did try to spoil the bill by having loyal lawmakers add amendments. House Bill 898 passed the Senate 49-0 earlier this month and on Thursday Gov. Tom Corbett signed it. Tragically, it took a dead police officer to make it happen.
This law should put pressure on those who attempt "straw purchases" -- the sale of guns by a person entitled to have them to a criminal who is not. The trouble for law enforcement has been that, if police subsequently find the guns were used in committing a crime, the seller can use the excuse that the guns were lost or stolen.
But HB 898 is not the much-discussed statute that would require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to the authorities or risk being penalized. What this measure does instead is change existing law so that a mandatory five-year prison term for repeat straw purchase offenders can be applied to multiple concurrent offenses.
The bill passed the House 186-10 in April last year, but the Senate took action only after the arrest of a straw purchaser who allegedly provided nine guns to a convicted felon who in September shot to death Officer Bradley Fox from Plymouth Township, outside Philadelphia. Belated as it was, the Legislature did the right thing, as did Mr. Corbett, despite the fact that neither the General Assembly nor the governor has previously been inclined to be sensible about firearms.
But let's not be carried away with congratulations. The bill that passed and the bill that languished on lost-and-stolen firearms are complementary. This is half a loaf and certainly not an excuse for lawmakers to sit around next session and do nothing further. It's not too much to ask law-abiding gun owners -- and certainly it does not infringe on their Second Amendment rights -- to be responsible and report missing firearms.
New law a step toward limiting gun trafficking
October 29, 2012 - "Not even the influence of the gun lobby was enough to overcome the impact on lawmakers of a murdered police officer. So, more than a year after the state House passed a bill to increase penalties against "straw purchasers" of guns, the Senate passed the bill Oct. 17, the last day of the legislative session."
Delaware County Times
New gun bill helps police combat crime
October 28, 2012 - "The significance of the gun purchase in the crime that took Fox from his family makes this bill an important one to law enforcement officers across the state. It is a fear that every officer — and their families — is intimately familiar with, the gnawing knowledge that each shift could be their last. This law, which should deter such heinous straw gun purchases, will make every one of their shifts a little safer."