Starting this week, at the direction of Chairman Ron Marisco, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee held week-long “Public Safety – gun laws and violence” hearings regarding numerous pending firearms-related bills, which seek to restrict firearm rights in Pennsylvania in every regard from outright banning all semi-automatic firearms and high capacity magazines to banning any part that “accelerates the rate of fire of semi-automatic firearm[s].” More disconcerting than Chairman Marisco’s scheduling of these hearings is the fact that seemingly in violation of Article 1, Section 20 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, even though he acknowledges that they are “public hearings,” he specifically precluded interested parties in testifying regarding these bills and stated to Bobby Lawrence (former US Senate Candidate) that if others want a voice then let them do it through e-mails to legislators or by Letters to the Editor.
As reflected below, the General Assembly does not have the first clue about the interplay between the state and federal firearm laws or the existing firearm laws here in Pennsylvania and federally. Nor do many of the Members have any respect for the State or U.S. Constitution. It is for these reasons that testimony is absolutely necessary from interested parties.
Thus, as explained below and as a result of Chairman Marisco’s statement and preclusion of interested parties being afforded to testify, it is imperative that you not only contact your state representative and senator, but additionally contact Chairman Marisco and all other members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding your opposition to any infringement of your constitutional rights. (The contact information for the House Judiciary Members is at the bottom of this article and I would encourage everyone to FAX any respectful correspondences on these issues to your representatives and the member of the House Judiciary Committee and then call to confirm their receipt of your fax, since some Members are contending that they have not received ANY correspondences in opposition to these bills). More importantly, it is imperative that you let your voice be heard, regardless of these Members’ political affiliation, as many of this anti-Article 1, Section 21 and Second Amendment bills are being proposed by alleged Republicans)
For those interested in the transcripts and video/audio from the PA Legislative Services (PLS) in relation to these hearings (as the Committee has failed, without explanation, to post the formal transcripts – also be aware, as it doesn’t appear that the videos are compressed, it may take a while to download them):
- Transcript and video from hearing on Monday, April 9th, at 11 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
- Transcript and video from hearing on Tuesday, April 10th at 10 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
- Transcript and video from hearing on Wednesday, April 11th at 10 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
- Transcript and video from hearing on Monday, April 16th at 10:30 AM, Room 205 – Ryan Office;
- Transcript and video from hearing on Tuesday, April 17th at 9:30 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
- Transcript and video from hearing on Wednesday, April 18th at 9:00 AM, Room 205 – Ryan Office.
From the transcripts and videos, you will see that they are discussing SB 17, SB 18, SB 383, SB 501, HB 175, HB 671, HB 832, HB 870, HB 1233, HB 1400, HB 1872, HB 2060, HB 2097, HB 2109, HB 2149, HB 2150, and HB 2216.
House Bill 1872, sponsored by Representatives Madeleine Dean (D) and Dom Costa (D), seeks to “Ban Rapid Fire or ‘Multiburst Trigger Activators’ in Pennsylvania.” The text can be found here. This bill seeks to change 18 Pa.C.S. § 908 – Prohibited Offensive Weapons to include “possession of an accelerated trigger activator purchased or otherwise obtained by the defendant prior to the effective date of this paragraph.” It then goes on to define “accelerate trigger activator” as a “part or combination of parts designed and intended to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm to simulate the rate of fire of a machinegun”
First and foremost, the sponsors apparently are completely unaware of numerous applicable U.S. and State constitutional provisions that result in this proposal being unconstitutional. As held by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically protects military weapons, which is inclusive of machineguns. Although there is no equivalent decision under Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, unlike its federal counterpart, the PA Constitution declares that “[t]he right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned,” which is then acknowledged to be an inalienable right by Article 1, Section 25, which provides that “[t]o guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.” (emphasis added).
Even if Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment were not applicable, this proposal is unconstitutional under the ex post facto law provisions of Article 1, Section 17 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It would also constitute an unlawful taking, without just compensation, under Article 1, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Didn’t these Members of the General Assembly take an oath to uphold the State and U.S. Constitutions? I am pretty sure they did, as such is specifically required by Article VI, Section 3, which declares:
Senators, Representatives and all judicial, State and county officers shall, before entering on the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation before a person authorized to administer oaths.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”
The oath or affirmation shall be administered to a member of the Senate or to a member of the House of Representatives in the hall of the House to which he shall have been elected.
Any person refusing to take the oath or affirmation shall forfeit his office.
What about making thousands of law-abiding individuals in Pennsylvania, overnight, into criminals, by their mere possession of these devices, without any means or opportunity to dispose of them? By the way, in case you were unaware, a violation of Section 908 is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which will result in the person being prohibited, in perpetuity, from purchasing and possessing firearms and ammunition, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 921(g)(1) – but that’s inconsequential, because we need to do something to solve a non-existent problem, right? While the sponsors and the media would have you believe that bump stocks were utilized in the horrific Las Vegas shooting, the Preliminary Investigative Report of shooting, although listing several bump stocks as having been recovered, does not list them as having been utilized in the attack.
Setting the constitutional issues aside, the sponsors lack an engineering understanding that the cyclic rate of a firearm is determined not by how fast or slow a particular person or device can cause the firearm to cycle but rather based on the fastest speed at which the firearm can operate. As reflected in this video, Jerry Miculek can out-shoot a bump stock and is FAR more accurate. Does that mean that Jerry Miculek will be automatically imprisoned if he steps foot in Pennsylvania? What about competition triggers? Are they to be included in this?
Senate Bill 17, sponsored by Wayne Fontana (D), seeks to ban, with limited exceptions, semi-automatic firearms, including HANDGUNS and shotguns, and large capacity magazines and institute a registry of semi-automatic firearms. The text can be found here. This bill would require an individual owning a semi-automatic firearm to obtain a “certificate of possession” from the Pennsylvania State Police and then an individual who is granted a certificate of possession is limited to the locations where he/she may possess the semi-automatic rifle. Better yet, the Pennsylvania State Police could deny you because of your “character and reputation,” which is not defined. Also, you will be charged a fee of $15, per firearm, every four years. Moreover, there is no grandfathering provision in relation to large capacity magazines and turns law-abiding individuals into criminals overnight. Of interesting note, since this is being offered as a result of the Parkland shooter, we now know that the Parkland shooter did NOT use large capacity magazines.
Senate Bill 18, sponsored by Wayne Fontana (D), seeks to provide for “extreme risk orders,” where in ex parte hearings (i.e. in the absence of due process) an individual can be stripped of their constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms. The text can be found here. Better yet, it even provides immunity to the person seeking an extreme risk order, even if there were purposeful omissions or misstatements in the petition!
House Bill 2216, sponsored by Warren Kampf (R), seeks to ban any devices that can “accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm” and “large capacity ammunition magazines” which is defined as any magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds or 5 shotgun shells. The text can be found here. Once again, apparently Representative Kampf has no understanding of the State or Federal Constitution and would, overnight, turn law-abiding individuals into criminals, as it fails to grandfather pre-existing large capacity magazines and fails to provide any means or opportunity to dispose of them.
House Bill 2251, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to, inter alia, define “ammunition,” “gun ranges” and “other weapons,” prohibit prohibited person from possessing or manufacturing ammunition (even though 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) already prohibits such), then requires background checks on the purchase of all ammunition – including from a gun range (which may not have an FFL and would therefore be precluded from performing a background check) – precludes any purchase of ammunition that does not occur face-to-face and precludes individuals from purchasing ammunition in another state and then bringing it into Pennsylvania, without it going through an FFL. The text can be found here.
House Bill 1233, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to monumentally revise Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Procedures Act, permitting far more individuals to constitute “qualified professionals,” makes it much easier for an individual to be committed under Sections 302 and 303, and fails to address the unconstitutionality of Section 302 (i.e. as held by Judge Kim Gibson of the Federal District Court for Western District of Pennsylvania, a Section 302 commitment lacks any form of due process). The text can be found here.
HB 1400 and HB 2249
House Bill 1400, sponsored by James Santora (R), and House Bill 2249, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to preclude private party sales and references them, erroneously, as a “gun show loophole.” The text can be found here for HB 1400 and here for HB 2249. While it putatively provides an exception, where the individual purchased a firearm from the same dealer within 48 hours, the language requires the person to produce a copy of a record/application of sale form, which is only utilized when the individual purchases a firearm under the definition provided by Section 6102 (i.e. generally speaking, a handgun). Thus, if an individual purchased a rifle from the same dealer, the exception would not apply, as the purchaser would be unable to produce a record/application of sale form.
House Bill 832, sponsored by Madeleine Dean (D), seeks to re-victimize those who have had a firearm stolen, by criminalizing their failure to report, within 72 hours, their victimization. The text can be found here. In what other context would anyone ever consider criminalizing the failure of a victim of crime to report that crime?
House Bill 2109, sponsored by Stephen McCarter (D), seeks to permit firearm restraining orders, which permits the assessment of fees and costs against the subject of an issue firearm restraining order, as well as, ex parte orders, in violation of all tenants of due process. The 52 pages of text can be found here.
House Bill 2252, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to duplicate the existing mental prohibition (see 18 U.S.C. 924(g)(4) and 18 PA.C.S. 6105(c)(4)) for those who are involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment. The text can be found here.
House Bill 2097, sponsored by Jason Dawkins (D), seeks to prohibit anyone who is merely arrested for or charged with a putative domestic violence offense, in the absence of due process, from possessing and purchasing firearms. The text can be found here. As everyone is aware, an individual who is subject to a Protection From Abuse Order or is convicted of a domestic violence offense is already prohibited under state and federal law (see, 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6105(a.1)(2), (c)(6), (c)(9); 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(8), (9)) Worse yet, reflecting the absence of any consideration in the drafting of this bill, it provides that any such prohibition would apply, for example, in a situation where one criminally trespasses on the property of or steals money or other object from an intimate partner.
SB 501 and HB 2060
House Bill 2060, sponsored by Representative Marguerite Quinn (R), and Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Senator Thomas Killon (R), are another solution in search of a problem, seeks to require an individual who is prohibited as a result of a domestic violence conviction or Protection from Abuse Order to turn in his/her firearms and ammunition, even though 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(8) already requires such. The text can be found here for HB 2060 and here for SB 501. Moreover, the requirement to turn over one’s firearms would be restricted to either a law enforcement department or a dealer, even though the current law additionally provides for third-party safekeeping permits and CeaseFirePA has been unable to show a single occasion where an individual gained access to firearms from a third-party safekeeper. Oh yeah, they also fail to mention that if an individual who holds a safekeeping permit permits access to the firearms by the prohibited person, it is already a misdemeanor of the first degree, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(a.1)(5); whereby, once again, under 18 U.S.C. § 921(g)(1), the individual will be barred, in perpetuity, from possessing and purchasing firearms and ammunition.
For the icing on the cake, it also provides that any firearm turned into the police would be considered “abandoned” after a year. I especially like the absurdity of the search of the “database of firearm sales,” when 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4 specifically prohibits the maintenance of any registry of firearms and when the sales database is only related to handguns. Better yet, it permits, in violation of due process and the takings provisions, for the entity that has possession of the firearm(s) to sell them and retain the proceeds.
HB 870 and SB 383
House Bill 870, sponsored by Representative Cris Dush (R), and Senate Bill 383, sponsored by Senator Donald White, seeks to permit armed school personnel (which I am in favor of) but both fail to address the issues I previously raised here and here to SB 383. The text can be found here for HB 870 and here for SB 383. I have written an extensive amendment for SB 383 or HB 870, which would address all of the relevant concerns, and am waiting for it to be offered.
As emails can be easily deleted without the recipient reviewing them and numerous Members have stated that they have not received any correspondences in opposition to these bills, I am imploring you to FAX any respectful correspondences to your Representative and House Judiciary Members, and then follow up via phone call to ensure that they all received your correspondence. If you wish to additionally send a copy via email, their respective email addresses are listed below.
The House Judiciary Members are:
- Chairman Ron Marsico – (717) 783-2014, Fax: (717) 705-2010 RMarsico@pahousegop.com;
- Democratic Chair Joseph Petrarca – (717) 787-5142, Fax: (717) 705-2014 JPetrarc@pahouse.net;
- Tarah Toohil – (570) 453-1344, Fax: (570) 459-3946 TToohil@pahousegop.com;
- Stephen Bloom – (717) 772-2280, Fax: (717) 705-2012 SBloom@pahousegop.com;
- Becky Corbin – (717) 783-2520, Fax: (717) 782-2927 BCorbin@pahousegop.com;
- Sheryl Delozier – (717) 783-5282, Fax: (717) 772-9994 SDelozie@pahousegop.com;
- Harold English – (717) 260-6407, Fax: (717) 783-5740 HEnglish@pahousegop.com;
- Garth Everett – (717) 787-5270, Fax: (717) 772-9958 GEverett@pahousegop.com;
- Barry Jozwiak – (717) 772-9940, Fax: (717) 782-2925 BJozwiak@pahousegop.com;
- Kate Klunk – (717) 787-4790, Fax: (717) 782-2952 KKlunk@pahousegop.com;
- Jerry Knowles – (717) 787-9029, Fax: (717) 782-2908 JKnowles@pahousegop.com;
- Tedd Nesbit – (717) 783-6438, Fax: (717) 782-2943 TNesbit@pahousegop.com;
- Rick Saccone – (717) 260-6122, Fax: (717) 787-9174 RSaccone@pahousegop.com;
- Paul Schemel – (717) 263-1053, Fax: (717) 263-1059 PSchemel@pahousegop.com;
- Todd Stephens – (717) 260-6163, Fax: (717) 782-2898 TStephen@pahousegop.com;
- Jesse Topper – (717) 787-7076, Fax: (717) 782-2933 JTopper@pahousegop.com;
- Martina White – (717) 787-6740, Fax: (717) 782-2929 MWhite@pahousegop.com;
- Bryan Barbin – (814) 487-4041, Fax: (814) 487-4043 BBarbin@pahouse.net;
- Ryan Bizzarro – (717) 772-2297, Fax: (717) 780-4767 RBizzarro@pahouse.net;
- Tim Briggs – (717) 705-7011, Fax: (717) 772-9860 TBriggs@pahouse.net;
- Dom Costa – (717) 783-9114, Fax: (717) 780-4761 DCosta@pahouse.net;
- Tina Davis – (717) 783-4903, Fax: (717) 783-0682 TDavis@pahouse.net;
- Jason Dawkins – (717) 787-1354, Fax: (717) 780-4789 JDawkins@pahouse.net;
- Madeleine Dean – (717) 783-7619, Fax: (717) 780-4754 MDean@pahouse.net;
- Joanna McClinton – (717) 772-9850, Fax: (717) 783-1516 JMcClinton@pahouse.net;
- Dan Miller – (717) 783-1850, Fax: (717) 780-4756 DMiller@pahouse.net;
- Gerald Mullery – 570) 636-3500, Fax: (570) 636-3502 GMullery@pahouse.net.
If you or someone you know has had their right to Keep and Bear Arms infringed, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.
Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.