If you follow Community Matters, you know that I support stricter gun control legislation. At the risk of causing another heated exchange over the rights of gun owners, I have an issue with Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) House Bill 1523 that is on Monday’s agenda in Harrisburg. The state House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take a vote on Metcalfe’s proposed pro-gun legislation HB1523 that would hold municipalities financially accountable for enacting gun laws. (To read proposed HB1523, click here).
I understand the meaning of the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep and to bear arms. However, I think that most of us could agree that the 2nd amendment was not designed to protect the rights of people to keep and bear ‘illegal’ arms. Every year, thousands of criminals use guns that have been lost or stolen from legitimate owners.
A major research project is not necessary to know that most crimes in America are committed using illegal guns. However for the record, according to their website, www.wheredidtheguncomefrom.com, “… over 80% of guns recovered in crimes are obtained by perpetrators illegally.”
Assuming that you are a responsible gun owner and a supporter of the 2nd amendment; why would you not support keeping illegal guns off the street? If you discovered that your firearm has been lost or stolen, why would you not support reporting it missing to the local police? I cannot imagine under what conditions, a gun owner would not want to do this.
Reporting lost or stolen guns would help the local police with gun trafficking and crack down on straw purchases — people who buy guns and then sell them illegally to people who can’t buy them on their own. Isn’t this commonsense reform? How’s it any different from someone stealing your car — you’d report that to the police, wouldn’t you?
In Pennsylvania, a gun owner does not have to report their firearm lost or stolen. But some municipalities have ordinances that require gun owners to report the loss or theft of a gun to the local police, within a certain time from when they discover the gun is missing. Each municipality determines the time. These 14 cities in Pennsylvania have passed lost and stolen firearm reporting ordinances:
- West Homestead
These cities and towns across Pennsylvania have taken action to crack down on illegal gun trafficking, but on Monday, Harrisburg may overturn these local decisions. House Bill 1523 threatens to punish cities and towns for taking local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers. Philadelphia and the other cities could face financial penalties for enacting their own gun-control measures that supersede state law. The bill would allow any gun owner challenging the local ordinance to collect legal fees and damages from the city that passed such an ordinance.
If members of the house Judiciary Committee are serious about upholding the law of Pennsylvania, they should follow the example set by these 14 municipalities! Rather than “cracking down” on communities that don’t follow the gun lobby’s agenda, the Judiciary Committee should recommend a statewide lost or stolen firearms reporting requirement that would help the local police with their efforts to crack down on illegal guns on the streets.
As an addendum to this post, look for an unprecedented commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday. The mayors of Boston and New York may be cheering for opposing teams but they are on the same side when it comes to gun control. New York City’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Thomas Menino have filmed a 30-second commercial for stricter gun control legislation, which will air during the big game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Bloomberg and Menino are founders of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition which lists over 600 mayors across the country as members.