Move over PA House Bill 1523 and make room for PA Senate Bill 1438. For those following the proposed NRA-supported legislation that would allow someone to sue a municipality for their lost or stolen firearm regulations, the PA House tabled HB 1523 a few weeks ago.
I inaccurately assumed that the reason for the tabling the lost or stolen handgun reporting bill was that our Harrisburg legislators had a change of heart … and decided to support the towns and cities (Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Lancaster, Allentown, etc.) across the state with local reporting ordinances. However, in a recent meeting with Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19), he explained that although the House was tabling HB 1523, a similar bill (SB 1438) would be on the Senate agenda when they returned to Harrisburg this week.
Senate Bill 1438 gives gun owners and membership organizations (which includes the National Rifle Association, NRA) legal standing to challenge any of municipality with ordinances that regulate firearms and ammunition. The language of the proposed legislation suggests the legal standing is regardless whether they live (or are connected to) Pennsylvania cities or towns with this kind of gun control ordinances. By granting legal standing to the NRA, allows the pro-gun organization to sue local municipalities, just like individual gun owners. Similar to the amended HB 1523, the proposed SB 1438 increases the scope and power of the NRA in Pennsylvania! Senate Bill 1438 has now moved to the Judiciary Committee for review.
If you own a car and it is stolen, you report it. If you own a pet and it is lost or stolen, you report it. So … if you a responsible gun owner, why would you not want to notify the police if it were stolen? All you have to say is the word ‘gun’ and some people immediately jump to the conclusion that someone is trying to take away their second amendment rights.
Today, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, mayors from the 30 Pennsylvania cities and towns with lost and stolen gun reporting ordinances are defending their local legislation, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. The mayors believe that their laws are helping to prevent crimes involving illegal guns. According to Nutter, of the 316 homicides in Philadelphia last year, 85 percent were with guns, all of which were illegal.
As if the HB 1523 was not sufficiently overreaching when it came to the rights of gun owners and the NRA, the proposed Senate bill ratchets the gun owner’s rights ever higher. If I understand the language in HB 1438 correctly, this proposed legislation will block employers from not allowing their employees to bring guns to work. If the proposed legislation passes, it could be ‘take you gun to work’ everyday and employers cannot set policy opposing it. Wow. Therefore, I guess this means that the employer has no rights when it comes to guns in the workplace but rather it is about the employee’s rights – that is, his or her rights to bring their guns to work. Think about the various types of workplaces and the thought that this proposed legislation would legally permit employees to take their guns … schools, childcare, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.
As I have said before, this is not a Republican versus Democratic issue. Based on the support for this type of pro-gun legislation in Pennsylvania, it has little to do with party affiliation but more about individual politicians and their constituent base.
Remembering that its election year and some of these politicians need to make sure that they are on the ‘right side’ of the National Rifle Association and, depending on the constituent base they represent, be seen as supporting second amendment rights. So, here is an interesting thought – to get elected in Pennsylvania in 2012, do candidates have to pack a weapon? Could it be that candidates fear that they may lose a vote or two if they are seen as supporting pro-gun legislation? The arm-twisting of the NRA probably assures that some legislators stay on the approved course.
I still have to wonder, why gun control discussion has to be black and white. Is it not possible to support the Constitution and the Second Amendment but also support some level of gun control in Pennsylvania?