HARRISBURG, Pa. - Second Amendment rights and gun-related issues were big topics at the State House Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on mental health and Second Amendment rights, while the House Judiciary Committee voted on several pieces of gun and crime related legislation.
Outside the Capitol Tuesday morning, people carried their guns as a sign of protest against stricter gun laws.
“I want to be able to protect myself when the need arrises," said Julia Glenn, protestor.
Inside the capitol, the Senate Judiciary Committee began a two-day hearing to discuss mental health and Second Amendment rights. At the same time, the House Judiciary Committee voted on gun and crime-related legislation.
“Granted, we have not done enough as some people would like on either side," said Chairman Rob Kauffman. "This was a balanced approached today on looking at gun laws in the commonwealth.”
Twelve bills were up for votes in the committee, the majority sponsored by republican lawmakers. The bills mostly focused on brining current state law up to date with federal law, prohibiting people who commit certain crimes from owning a gun, along with consecutive and mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders.
While these bills passed out of committee, they were not backed by many democrats.
“My fear is that when we install something like a mandatory minimum back into place it hasn’t worked in the past," said State Rep. Josh Dawkins. "I don’t foresee it working in the future and I only see folks who look like me tend to get this mandatory minimum charge more often than not.”
Democratic lawmakers, including Governor Tom Wolf have called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Kauffman to bring democrat sponsored gun safety legislation, like red flag laws, to a vote. However, Chairman Kauffman makes it clear that will not happen.
“We will not be considering red flag in the house judiciary committee," said Chairman Kauffman. "So long as Chairman Kauffman is chairman.”
Governor Wolf says he is extremely frustrated Chairman Kauffman will not allow votes on some gun safety legislation. He says, "We should be taking action to improve gun safety and reduce gun violence, not going in the opposite directions."