Gun safety bills head to Pennsylvania House floor

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Several gun safety bills are awaiting a vote in the Pennsylvania House. Five bills that would improve safety when it comes to purchasing and owning a gun were passed by the House Judiciary Committee.

"We're moving a number of bills that I think would help make the Commonwealth a safer place when it comes to gun violence," said Rep. Todd Stephens, (R) Montgomery County.

Rep. Stephens serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and is also the prime sponsor of HB 2227. It would allow family members, or law enforcement to go to a judge and give reasons they believe someone should relinquish their guns for a temporary period of time.  Rep. Stephens says states like Indiana and Connecticut that passed similar laws saw suicide rates drop by up to 13 percent. He says, his inspiration for the bill came after the Parkland, Florida high school shooting in February.

"I began looking in ernest for ways or mechanism to help folks who might seem out of the ordinary or troubling," said Rep. Stephens. "And to report that to law enforcement and really empower people to take some action where they see something that's concerning."

Rep. Stephens' bill was just one of four other bills to make it out of committee. Representative Eric Nelson, sponsored HB2463, which would change the gun rights of people who had an involuntary mental health treatment, also reducing the ban on gun possession from a lifetime to six months.

"People who have mental health struggles are not normally violent at all," said Rep. Nelson, (R) Westmoreland County. "If somebody has a struggle we would also bring Pennsylvania into compliance with federal law, which would enable Pennsylvania to receive monies because we don't have a pathway of restoration and it's an expectation of the federal government that our citizens should be given that opportunity."

Both Stephens and Nelson are happy to see their bills head to the house floor, encouraged by the conversations they have started.

"Hopefully, it'll be the beginning of some meaningful results and changes to our gun laws in Pennsylvania so we can better protect folks," said Rep. Stephens. "While preserving their second amendment rights and due process and all those other important constitutional considerations."

Other gun safety bills passed out of committee and sent to the full House include:

  • HB2060: Requiring people convicted of domestic violence to surrender their firearms within 48 hours, instead of 60 days. The guns would not be allowed to be given to family members or friends. The gun would have to be turned into law enforcement, an authorized gun dealer, or an attorney.
  • HB2275: Expand the list of serious crimes prohibiting gun possession to include people who attempted, conspired or solicited someone to commit a crime.
  • HB273: People could sign up to bar themselves from buying guns, also allowing them to voluntarily surrender their guns to state police.