Gun safety laws fail in Pa. House by razor-thin margin • Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Hours after hundreds of gun safety advocates gathered in the state capital, the Pennsylvania House voted down a pair of bills, one that would ban machine gun conversion devices and another aimed at curbing the gun trade.

House Bills 335 And 2206 both failed on a 101-100 vote Tuesday, with state Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria) joining every Republican in opposition.

“Today, 500 Pennsylvanians from more than 45 counties and three-quarters of state legislative districts showed that the vast majority of our Commonwealth demands safer communities,” Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFirePA Action, said in a statement to the Capital-Star . “And today, a handful of radical lawmakers defied that mass movement of survivors, youth, doctors and interfaith leaders, and chose to allow illegal machine guns and firearms trafficking to continue killing Pennsylvanians.”

“We will hold them accountable for betraying their duty to keep us safe, and we will not stop until we can all live our lives free from gun violence,” Garber added.

Although both bills failed Tuesday, House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) and Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) filed a motion to reconsider them.

State Rep. Ben Sanchez (D-Montgomery), who sponsored House Bill 335said ahead of the House vote that the legislation would ban future sales and purchases of accelerated trigger activators, such as those used in the largest mass shooting in the US history at a country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017.

“Accelerated trigger actuators such as bump stocks and glock switches accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm to simulate the rate of fire of a machine gun,” Sanchez said. “Madam President, this bill makes it clear that machine guns have no place in a civilized society.”

Sanchez also argued that other states and the federal government have moved to ban trigger triggers, including Republican governors and government leaders. former President Donald Trump. Sanchez said banning trigger activators should not be a partisan issue.

House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said he voted no because the issue is already covered by the National Firearms Act. In February the The U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge about the ban on bump stocks passed during the Trump administration.

“I understand the issues of gun violence,” Cutler said. “I understand the desire to blame inanimate objects like a firearm, and that is exactly what this bill does. And that’s why it won’t work.”

State Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Lawrence) also pushed for a no vote, arguing that “it appears we don’t know what this bill even is, other than a violation of the Second Amendment.”

House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) spoke in favor of the bill and cited support from Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who heads the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. Bradford argued that local prosecutors cannot prosecute federal crimes and that this legislation would give them another tool at their disposal to fight crime.

State Rep. Anthony Bellmon (D-Philadelphia), who sponsored House Bill 2206said his legislation was developed in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to streamline the process of submitting gun registrations to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Bellman said the bill would also codify the track-and-trace program developed by then-Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in 2019 to help law enforcement detect crime and guns, prevent gun trafficking, reduce straw purchasing and make communities safer.

“Let’s be crystal clear: this bill does not create any list, database or registry,” Bellmon said. “This bill simply improves the process that already exists.”

“It simply modernizes our existing processes by requiring that the documentation currently sent to the State Police be submitted electronically instead,” Bellmon added. “Delays in filing paperwork are dangerous to our law enforcement and make our communities less safe.”

State Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton) claimed the purpose of the legislation was to let the government know who owns firearms.

“The only reason the government would want to know everything we own and how much of it we own would be to take away everything and every gun we own,” Borowicz said.

Tuesday was not the first time that Democratic-backed gun safety legislation failed because Burns joined Republicans. In In May 2023, Burns was also the only Democrat to vote with Republicanswhich defeated legislation that would have required gun owners to report lost and stolen guns to police.

Voting in Pa. House on gun safety bills highlight Democrats’ ‘modest majority’

A few hours before the vote, CeaseFirePA Action celebrated the legislation that has made progress since Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections.

Before that, Garber said there had only been one gun safety bill passed by the Pennsylvania House in the last 15 years.

Since then, Garber said three bills have been passed, including one that would provide extreme risk protection orders to provide lifesaving tools to family members to prevent firearm suicide, universal background checks to ensure every AR15 first comes with a background check, and a ghost gun ban that will prevent shootings with untraceable firearms.

He expressed confidence that the two bills introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday will pass, but said the Legislature still has more work to do.

Garber and others placed the onus on the Republican Party-controlled Senate to advance these pieces of legislation.

“Listen, we need to elect more Democrats to the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said at the meeting. “Three more Democrats in the Senate and you have my promise.”

“My plan: If Senate Democrats are in control of the Senate, these measures will be on the Senate floor in Harrisburg the first week and we will vote on these measures there every day until we get Republicans to join us ” added Costa. .

The issue of gun safety has been high on the agenda in the capital over the past two weeks. While CeaseFirePA was holding a rally on Tuesday, gun rights supporters were holding a rally 2nd Amendment Rally last week on the steps of the Capitol.