Proposed Bill Calling for Firearms Registry in Pennsylvania Finds Little Support Locally
House Bill 768, also known as the Firearms Registration Act, was introduced by Representatives Angel Cruz (D-180th District-Philadelphia); Mary Louise Isaacson (D-175th District-Philadelphia); and Mary Jo Daley (D-148th District-Montgomery).
The bill would require all gun owners in Pennsylvania to annually register their firearms with the Pennsylvania State Police.
It would make exceptions in cases regarding collector items, antiques, or duty weapons.
Representative Donna Oberlander (R-63rd District – serving Clarion County, part of Armstrong County, and part of Forest County) expressed her opposition of the proposed bill to exploreClarion.com.
“During my entire tenure in the State House, I have been and continue to be a staunch advocate in support of our Second Amendment, as are the majority of residents of the 63rd District,” she said.
“This legislation – which I do not support and don’t believe would be effective – has been introduced for the past few years. It has never been reported out of committee. I don’t see that happening this session either.”
The bill would require gun owners in Pennsylvania to register each of their firearms, individually, with the Pennsylvania State Police and provide a range of personal information including the name, home and business address, telephone number, date of birth, sex, citizenship, social security number, and fingerprints of the applicant, and the name of the manufacturer, the caliber or gauge, and the model, type, and serial number of each firearm.
The registry would also require a criminal background check on the applicant, as well as two photographs, taken within 30 days immediately prior to the date of application, showing the full face, head, and shoulders of the applicant.
The registration fee is set at $10.00 per firearm, and registrants would also be required to annually renew their registration at a cost of $10.00 per firearm each year.
In the event that an application is denied, the applicant will have ten days to appeal the decision, or they would be required to surrender the denied firearms to the state police.
Representative R. Lee James (R-65th District – serving Venango County, and part of Butler County) also voiced his opposition to the proposed bill.
“There are so many things wrong with this. I will never support an issue like this, ever.”
The bill also requires that gun owners keep all firearms unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.
“It requires people to keep their firearms disassembled. Why even have them then? If someone breaks in, you’ll need fifteen minutes to put it together, and you’re not going to have that,” noted Representative James.
Representative Cris Dush (R-66th District serving Jefferson County and part of Indiana County) echoed Oberlander and James’ contention with the proposal.
“I’m definitely in strong opposition to the idea.”
“It was tried before by Hitler in Germany and by Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Republic, and it didn’t go well for the people there.”
ExploreClarion.com spoke to several area gun rights advocates who are adamantly against the proposed bill.
Local resident Jake Stroup who works at a firearms business said, “Having to register every firearm currently owned violates the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights on the federal level, as well as Article 1 Section 21 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania which states ‘the right of the citizens to bear arms shall not be questioned.'”
“Very few Pennsylvania residents will be willing to submit fingerprints and photographs for Title One Weapons that they already own. This is the same process used for Title Two Weapons (silencers, machine guns, destructive devices, etc.) that many people refuse to bother with as a stumbling block to owning them.”
“The authors of this legislation have far over-reached any reasonable points to ‘compromise’ with any moderate gun owners,” noted Stroup.
Local resident Kevin Shaffer mirrored Stroup’s sentiments.
“The second amendment is my right to keep and bear arms. The state is going to go against the constitution and try to have every gun owner register their guns,” said Shaffer.
Corey Botelho, who runs Tri-Force Tactical, a local tactical training group out of New Bethlehem, also referenced the Constitution, echoing the opinions of Stroup and Shaffer.
“This country was founded on freedom and the U.S. Constitution, and these same individuals that took an oath to defend this ideology are the same ones trying to unhinge America and its people. Like many new ‘do and don’t policies,’ gun control is just one more way to make our nation vulnerable, our people weak, and our communities a safe haven for all those that seek to destroy it,” explained Botelho.
“The loss of freedom and rights starts with the God-given right to defend yourself. Without that right, your freedom will be no more. Take guns away, then speech, then justice, and the rest will follow.”
The primary supporter of the bill – Representative Angel Cruz – believes this bill will protect Pennsylvanians by only putting guns in the hands of those who are eligible to own them.
In the House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda to Bill 768, Representative Cruz states:
“In this world of instant information, we can’t go an hour without hearing on the news or social media about crime, injury, or death involving firearms. Pew Research Center reports that almost half of Americans personally know someone who has been shot, with 40,000 gun-related deaths reported in 2017. Six in ten Americans believe that our nation’s gun laws are not strict enough, and it’s time something be done to address this problem.”
“I am proposing the creation of a firearm registration within the Pennsylvania State Police. Upon application and approval, firearm owners will be given a registration certificate, valid for one year, for each registered firearm they own. A registration certificate will only be issued to individuals who are eligible to possess a firearm under Federal and State law, who have never been convicted of a crime of violence and have not been convicted of a crime relating to the use, possession, or sale of any dangerous drug within five years prior to the application. This PSP database will aid all law enforcement officials with investigations and with tracking missing or stolen firearms.”
“Please join me in protecting Pennsylvania lives by ensuring that firearms only get into the hands of those who are eligible to own them and that every gun in the state is properly accounted for.”
The Firearms Registration Act has been referred to the judiciary committee.
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