Here’s a latest update on pending Pennsylvania House Bill 1523 – although on the state House agenda since last Wednesday, the bill has yet to get to the House floor. Today is the last day the House of Representatives are in session before recessing until mid-March. With at least 13 proposed amendments to the bill, since the proposed legislation left the Judiciary Committee hearing, my guess is there probably will not be a decision today.
Thirty cities and towns across Pennsylvania have taken action to crack down on illegal gun trafficking but the pending bill threatens to punish them for taking local action on illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers. As originally written, the bill would allow any gun owner to challenge these local ordinances and to collect legal fees and damages from the city that passed such an ordinance. As if that was not sufficient, HB1523 got a boost when it left the state Judiciary Committee … the amended HB1523 legislation grants legal standing to the NRA, allowing the pro-gun organization to sue the local municipalities, just like individual gun owners.
This is the NRA we are talking about – the most powerful lobbying organization in the country! If you look at the supporters of HB1523, you will see support from both sides of the political aisle; this is not a Republican versus Democratic issue. No, it seems to have less to do with party politics and more to do with legislators feeling the need to stay on the ‘right side’ of the National Rifle Association.
I wonder how many of these Harrisburg legislators have received money from the NRA? Or, are the legislators involved in current campaigns and feel the need to stay on NRA’s approved list of candidates or elected officials? Some of the elected officials in Harrisburg apparently do some kind of calculus and figure that there is more to be gained by staying on the ‘right side’ of the NRA than any possible downside to the safety of the local municipalities.
Why should the goals and objectives of the NRA guide the decisions of any local elected official? Why? What’s the saying, ‘follow the money’?
Apparently, I am not alone in my opinion. In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, columnist Monica Yant Kinney writes about HB1523,
“Pennsylvania gun laws are a sick joke. Any state that happily sells buyers unlimited weapons on demand is a state where politicians fear the wrath of the NRA more than the loss of their own lives. … Legislators want to have it both ways: They refuse to protect citizens, but they’ll be damned if they allow cities to do it for them.”
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I disagree. The NRA supports legislators who support their views, the same way the PSEA supports legislators who support their views. The money comes from groups like this to help ensure election or reelection of like minded candidates, not for votes.
At least the NRA is bipartisan whereas the PSEA supports almost all Democrats.
FTW: Disappointed with that glib response. the NRA and the PSEA buy “like minded” legislators — they buy their views. Helps to ensure like minded candidates? How about helps to ensure no one can take on someone funded by the big money lobbies?
The PSEA is simply frugal – they support enough to hold the majority. I think “like minded” and “unions” have something to do with the PSEA supporting most democrats.
The NRA is greedy and guns are not partisan…so they pick off their “support” one at a time. Do you really believe every R that supports pro gun legislation is a 2nd amendment lover? Likewise every D who supports the PSEA thinks unions are not over the top?
Oddly, you answered your own question: the NRA supports way more Dems and Reps than the PSEA. They are way more bipartisan because their issues are (get out of the suburbs and it becomes clear.)
I have no response to someone possibly claiming the NRA is greedy and the teachers’ unions aren’t. That is the most patently ridiculous statement ever.
And, no, I don’t think every R is 100 percent 2nd amendment. Either does the NRA which is why they grade candidates based on candidate positions vs NRA positions – and shows how they are graded so the public can decide. The PSEA? It is either endorsed or not and they don’t make the questionairres public. You decide which organization is truly more political or willingly transparent in their efforts.
Wow — did you miss the point!?
Money is how these groups find “like minded” people. And our system of elections is more about targeting than supporting. I hardly think the PSEA is fair — they just have a more natural affinity with the D message.
Ask almost any representative to go on record about the NRA and there will be a hesitation — because the answer depends on whether the NRA would be able to find a candidate to oppose them. If that makes them like minded, I guess we have to agree that we have no common ground on which to agree.
Polarizing extremes….makes you wonder.
Do the ends justify the means? Is it OK to promote illegal activity in order to curtail illegal activity? Is a crime a crime only if we don’t approve of that crime or is a crime a crime at all times?
The law in Pa. is VERY explicit concerning preemption concerning the righty to bear arms in Pa.
How many investigations of straw purchasers have fallen apart because someone lied and said that their gun was stolen? If their evidence is so weak that they have to depend on the criminal element to be truthful about what happened to their gun there is no case in the first place.
If a law abiding citizen has a gun stolen and they are not aware of it should they then become a criminal? What sence does that make? Punish the innocent because criminals can’t be trusted. That is appalling to even consider.
What are the stats? How many straw purchasers went to prison because a law says that they must report a stolen gun?
The fear of the law abiding citizen that happens to own a gun has little basis in fact. It is a simple thing to control that fear….don’t buy a gun and quit cowering in a corner locked within the confines of your home. Citizens are more likely to die in an auto wreck than by a law abiding citizen’s stolen gun but everyone loves their cars. Go figure.
BTW let’s try something unique….let’s punish the gun thief and not the victim of theft.
Are you as angry as me that people sell guns to violent criminals? Yes? Than DEMAND that those responsible for letting guns “walk” across the border are prosecuted as an accessory to the hundreds of brutal murders that they helped to commit. Pleading the fifth and hiding behind Obama just does not cut it.
A good friend of mine once told me his pet peeve in life is “Exercises in futility.” I agree. I have followed this series of opinion articles by Pattye and responses from both sides of the debate for long enough to figure out this conversation falls into that “exercise in futility” category.
There have been a number of well thought out, logical replies to this issue but Pattye will just not accept them. This is the problem with liberals, they are emotion driven and typically disregard rational thought. To review:
1) The PA Constitution, Article 1 section 21 guarantees the right of the citizen to keep and bears arms in the defense of himself and the state, WITHOUT QUESTION!
2) In PA, only the State Legislature is permitted to make laws concerning firearms. No lesser government entity is permitted to do so.
3) Some local governments believe they are above the law and insist on making laws concerning firearms that are clearly illegal.
4) The DA’s in general for some reason refuse to enforce this obvious breach of the law.
5) The above being the case, it is up to the citizens who wish to defend their Constitutional right through their legislators to craft a way to enforce the law that local governments and the DA’s association will not do. Hence HB 1523 which will permit law abiding citizens to hold law breaking local governments accountable. If that costs a local law breaking government a lot of money, the local electorate should take care of this at the next election.
The rational and logic are clear Pattye. Your approach is illegal, flawed and has been proven to not work. This is another problem with liberal thought. No matter how many times something is shown that is doesn’t work, liberals continue to support it. A good definition of insanity is, “Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
I believe we both want what is best for the citizens of PA. I promote concepts that work, how about you?
This is not a matter of money; it is a matter of efficacy of ones arguments.
As an example, one of the main problems those who advocate ‘stricter gun control laws’ have is that it is clearly apparent that they are clueless as to the reality of the ‘strict’ and ‘punitive’ laws we now have.
With this in mind I thought this discussion would benefit from seeing the actual ‘penalty’ sections under just ‘one’ of the current laws we now have. Please keep in mind that legislators know these laws exist now and that they are ‘not’ being enforced against violent recidivist criminals by the District Attorneys.
Please also keep in mind that I have researched the imposition of these laws on criminals through the PA Commission on Sentencing over a 10 year period.
§6111. Sale or transfer of firearms.
(1) Any person, licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer or licensed importer who knowingly or intentionally sells, delivers or transfers a firearm in violation of this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree. (2) Any person, licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer or licensed importer who knowingly or intentionally sells, delivers or transfers a firearm under circumstances intended to provide a firearm to any person, purchaser or transferee who is unqualified or ineligible to control, possess or use a firearm under this chapter commits a felony of the third degree and shall in addition be subject to revocation of the license to sell firearms for a period of three years. (4) Any person, purchaser or transferee commits a felony of the third degree if, in connection with the purchase, delivery or transfer of a firearm under this chapter, he knowingly and intentionally:
(i) makes any materially false oral statement; (ii) makes any materially false written statement, including a statement on any form promulgated by Federal or State agencies; or (iii) willfully furnishes or exhibits any false identification intended or likely to deceive the seller, licensed dealer or licensed manufacturer.
(5) Notwithstanding section 306 (relating to liability for conduct of another; complicity) or any other statute to the contrary, any person, licensed importer, licensed dealer or licensed manufacturer who knowingly and intentionally sells, delivers or transfers a firearm in violation of this chapter who has reason to believe that the firearm is intended to be used in the commission of a crime or attempt to commit a crime shall be criminally liable for such crime or attempted crime. (6) Notwithstanding any act or statute to the contrary, any person, licensed importer, licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer who knowingly and intentionally sells or delivers a firearm in violation of this chapter who has reason to believe that the firearm is intended to be used in the commission of a crime or attempt to commit a crime shall be liable in the amount of the civil judgment for injuries suffered by any person so injured by such crime or attempted crime.
(h) Subsequent violation penalty.–
(1) A second or subsequent violation of this section shall be a felony of the second degree and shall be punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of five years. A second or subsequent offense shall also result in permanent revocation of any license to sell, import or manufacture a firearm. (2) Notice of the applicability of this subsection to the defendant and reasonable notice of the Commonwealth’s intention to proceed under this section shall be provided prior to trial. The applicability of this section shall be determined at sentencing. The court shall consider evidence presented at trial, shall afford the Commonwealth and the defendant an opportunity to present necessary additional evidence and shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence if this section is applicable. (3) There shall be no authority for a court to impose on a defendant to which this subsection is applicable a lesser sentence than provided for in paragraph (1), to place the defendant on probation or to suspend sentence. Nothing in this section shall prevent the sentencing court from imposing a sentence greater than that provided in this section. Sentencing guidelines promulgated by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing shall not supersede the mandatory sentences provided in this section. (4) If a sentencing court refuses to apply this subsection where applicable, the Commonwealth shall have the right to appellate review of the action of the sentencing court. The appellate court shall vacate the sentence and remand the case to the sentencing court for imposition of a sentence in accordance with this section if it finds that the sentence was imposed in violation of this subsection.
So the REAL question you need to be asking is why these are not enforced and how many individuals would be alive today if they had been.
PS these penalties apply for just ‘one’ straw purchaser who sells a legally purchased firearm to a criminal no matter the compensation.
Rather than being a proponent of stricter gun laws, I’d suggest you actually read Title 18, Section 6111. I’m sure, much to your surprise, that you’ll be pleased to see that the penalties for unlawful transfer of a firearm are FELONIES! You fail to see that prosecutorial misconduct, in english, failure of prosecutors to put felons in jail, is the problem. Why do you think the District Attorneys Association is all fired up about HB 1523? Because it will expose their penchant for “swallowing the gun”, i.e., plea bargaining away gun charges in an effort to quickly dispose of felony cases. Swapping out really powerful penalties for a slap on the wrist happens every day. You don’t need any more laws, for God’s sake, you need aggressive prosecution and incarceration of criminals who use guns in crimes! Or do you side with Representative Curtis Thomas, who in House Judiciary hearings in 2010, said “we can’t put all the criminals in jail.” Its a matter of record, look it up. And oh, by the way, I’m joined at the hip with Kim Stolfer, and Representative Metcalfe on HB 1523. And the NRA? not relevant anymore. Its Pennyslvania grassroots organizations who are carrying the day, and we’re not funded by George Soros or Mayor Bloomberg.
Is the FOAC or the NRA doing anything actively to help solve the gun crime problems that certain cities have? Are they helping these cities or the state legislature come up with creative solutions to reduce gun crime? Are they actively pressuring DAs to enforce laws that are currently not enforced? It seems with their expertise on gun safety and gun laws, organizations such as the NRA and the FOAC are well suited to help these cities solve this particular problem. My guess is less gun crime would equal less calls for gun control and it would be win-win for everyone.
The police are charged “to help solve the gun crime problems”. The District Attorneys are charged to prosecute those crimes. If everyone did their jobs, criminals would be prosecuted and law-abiding citizens (whether gun owners or not) would live in a safer world.
Enforce the existing STATE laws and the 30-odd entities that violate PA state law by enacting their own illegal laws would be able to remove those laws from their books and be in compliance with STATE LAW.
I’m not sure this is true, but let’s say the gun violence problem solely stems from the police and the DAs not “doing their jobs”. Are the NRA and the FOAC doing anything to track where a failure to do a proper job is leading to a gun crime problem in a specific city? Are the NRA and the FOAC working on ways to help the police and the DAs do their jobs better? Again, as the experts on gun safety and gun laws, I would imagine the NRA and the FOAC could come up with some very constructive ideas to help solve the gun violence problem in the cities.
He who has the most money wins. tragic
I am not a particular supporter of gun rights, but it is clear to me that the present provisions of Title 18 cover the transfer/straw parties more than adequently and the issue over local ordinances is really unnecessary. The local ordinances are not necessary and this is an enforcement issue only.
On a broader note, has anyone who has ever argued for the legalization of marijuana (because of police abuses against otherwise law abiding parties, loss of respect for law, turning people into criminals, etc) ever stopped to think that all these arguments would apply even more strongly if and when government tried to pass serious anti-gun laws? There are some things which are cultural issues that laws just can not reach.
Another deadly incident …this time in Ohio, of a troubled young man taking a gun to school and killing two innocent students, wounding four others. Tragic.
It highlights the danger of unsecured weapons in the home, the possible role a lost or stolen ordinance might have played if one of his parents had noticed and reported a handgun missing.
Or it may turn out that the minor was able to buy a handgun illegally.
Here’s the most straightforward explanation as to why lost and stolen laws should remain in place in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several dozen other communities in Pennsylvania, and why HB 1523 must be defeated.
Gun lobbyists want you to think otherwise, but lost and stolen laws do NOT infringe on the rights of legal gun owners.
Go to: http://www.ceasefirepa.org/oppose1523
Let Rep. Kampf (or whoever your state rep is) know you oppose H.B. 1523.
Giving the NRA and other gun groups in the state the right to sue towns and cities merely for having a lost and stolen ordinance in place is ludicrous! This bill does not reflect the will of Pennsylvania’s citizens.