Skip Navigation

Package of gun bills to come before Pennsylvania House

  • By Brooke Schultz/ The Associated Press/Report for America
FILE - Shown is the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Jan. 5, 2021, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

 Laurence Kesterson / AP Photo

FILE - Shown is the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Jan. 5, 2021, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

Pennsylvania’s state House of Representatives began debate Monday on the first measure on gun control to see the floor amid a yearslong standstill in the politically divided government.

Democrats are using their razor thin one-vote majority in the House seeking to advance several bills they couch as relatively moderate ways to cut down on gun trafficking, suicide deaths, accidental shootings and day-to-day violence, though the legislation has still drawn criticism from Republicans.

Four bills advanced through a House committee last month, which include one to require long-barreled firearms to be sold with trigger locks. A second requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm to police within three days. Repeat offenders would face a misdemeanor charge.

A third bill would expand background checks on firearms buyers in Pennsylvania and end an exception for private sales of shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles, known as the “gun show” loophole.

The fourth, a so-called red flag bill, would allow a judge to order authorities to temporarily seize firearms from someone if asked by family members or police. Nineteen states have similar laws, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun violence organization.

Even if the bills pass the House, the legislation will come up against the Republican-controlled Senate, which has historically been protective of gun rights, while working with Democrats in boosting funding for anti-violence and mental health programs.

The measures come as the U.S. is setting a record pace for mass killings in 2023. In Philadelphia, gun violence played big role in the campaign for mayor, and the city is asking the state’s highest court to allow it to impose its own gun-control policies.

The Pennsylvania Legislature, long controlled by Republicans, has not seriously considered broadening gun-control measures since 2018. With the newfound Democratic majority in the House, the chamber kicked off this session’s debate over gun violence with a hearing in March.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
National & World News

These are some of the people who'll be impacted if the U.S. defaults on its debts