HARRISBURG, Pa. --- A new proposal in the state House seeks to create a gun registry.
House Bill 768, or the Firearm Registration Act, was proposed on Friday by Representative Angel Cruz (D-Philadelphia), Representative Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia), and Representative Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery).
In the Co-Sponsorship memoranda of the bill, the primary sponsor, Rep. Cruz, says:
"In this world of instant information, we can't go an hour without hearing on the news or social media about crime, injury, or death involving firearms. Pew Research Center reports that almost half of Americans personally know someone who has been shot, with 40,000 gun-related deaths reported in 2017. Six in ten Americans believe that our nation’s gun laws are not strict enough, and it’s time something be done to address this problem.
I am proposing the creation of a firearm registration within the Pennsylvania State Police. Upon application and approval, firearm owners will be given a registration certificate, valid for one year, for each registered firearm they own. A registration certificate will only be issued to individuals who are eligible to possess a firearm under Federal and State law, who have never been convicted of a crime of violence and have not been convicted of a crime relating to the use, possession, or sale of any dangerous drug within five years prior to the application. This PSP database will aid all law enforcement officials with investigations and with tracking missing or stolen firearms."
The bill would require Pennsylvanians seeking to do anything with a gun, whether that be own, possess, sell or transfer, to apply for gun registration through State Police.
It would make exceptions in cases such as collector items, antiques or duty weapons.
The application, which would be required to be in writing and sworn under oath, would need thorough personal and gun information.
This includes: name, home and business address, telephone number, date of birth, Social Security number, age, sex, and citizenship of an applicant.
For each gun being applied for registration, it would require the manufacturer, the caliber or gauge, model type and serial number.
It also would require two passport-style photographs and any additional information State Police may "deem necessary."
Applicants would also have to submit for fingerprinting and background checks through State Police.
Upon approval by PSP, owners would receive a certification, similar to an ID, that must be carried.
If denied, an applicant would have ten days to appeal the decision or they must "surrender" the gun that was being registered to State Police.
The process would have to be renewed each year, including a non-refundable $10 per gun fee for each gun being registered.
Additional requirements include mandatory reporting of a sale, loss or theft of a certificate or gun to State Police.
Also, registered firearms would have to be kept "unloaded and disassembled or bound by trigger lock, gun safe, or a similar device" unless the gun is in the owner's "immediate possession and control while at a registrant's place of residence or business or while being used for lawful recreational purposes in the Commonwealth."
Any violations would result in a "summary offense."
Joseph Staudt, owner of Staudt's Gun Shop in West Hanover Township, Dauphin County, said he believes the bill violates both the federal and statutory second amendments on the right to bear arms.
“Our state constitution reads very similarly except at the end it says 'shall not be questioned.' I think, clearly, you could say that this legislation not only questions our right to keep and bear arms but also infringes," said Staudt.
Among his concerns, he believes requirements in the bill hurt a gun owner's ability for self-defense.
He also called the bill a "wish list" for those who support gun control or a ban on guns.
“We’ve seen in history through totalitarian regimes where the first step to confiscation is registration," said Staudt.
The Firearms Registration Act is still at an early stage as it was referred to the judiciary committee.
The bill also states the Pennsylvania State Police would be in charge of setting the rules and regulations for implementation of the act.
A spokesperson with PSP says while they are "tracking the issue," they do not "typically comment on pending legislation."
Rep. Cruz was not available for comment at the time of publication.