Expanded background check bill introduced in Pennsylvania House

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers introduced a bill expanding background check requirements in the Pennsylvania state House earlier this month.

House Bill 1400 amends existing statute to require all gun transfers, except those between family members, include a background check. Currently, state law exempts firearms with barrels longer than 15 inches from the mandate.

The proposal also creates a background check approval valid for 72 hours to be used at gun shows.

Prime sponsor Republican Rep. Jamie Santora said the measure will “ultimately” require background checks for the sale of every firearm in the state.

“We’re not trying to take away Second Amendment rights,” he told the Delaware County News Network last week. “Anyone who has a gun should have a background check. If it saves one life, I did my job.”

Democratic Reps. Dom Costa and Madeleine Dean cosponsored the bill, formally introduced in the House on May 18. It awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.

“While there is no single solution to this terrible problem, there are measures that can and must be taken,” a spokesperson for Dean told local media last week. “HB 1400 would accomplish one of those measures by closing Pennsylvania’s background check loophole in firearms purchases by requiring universal background checks on all gun sales. This step is common sense; it is what 90 percent of the public wants, and it will save lives.”

The proposal caught the attention of Breitbart columnist AWR Hawkins, who criticized its attempt to “keep guns away from criminals” by pointing out high-profile mass shootings of which the murderer passed a background check.

“Santora’s bill would bar the private sales that Americans have enjoyed since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 and would require that every sale be processed in front of an agent of the government via a background check,” he said in a column published Sunday. “This means that law-abiding Pennsylvanians selling a gun to a fellow hunter, lifelong co-worker, or childhood friend would have to seek out a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder and the would-be buyer would have to pass a background check just as the Orlando Pulse attacker (June 12, 2016), the Aurora movie theater attacker (July 20, 2012), Gabby Giffords’ attacker (January 8, 2011), the Fort Hood attacker (November 5, 2009), and the Virginia Tech attacker (April 16, 2007) did.”