HARRISBURG – The Senate voted today to reinforce Pennsylvanians’ Constitutional right to bear arms while continuing to safely protect our communities by preventing municipalities from bypassing state law prohibiting them from regulating firearms and ensuring those legally allowed to own a gun can carry it openly or concealed, without needing a permit, according to Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) who supported the effort.
Senate Bill 448, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), allows for an individual or member organization to sue a county or municipality that implements a local firearms ordinance in violation of existing state law; allows for individuals adversely affected by local action to seek relief and damages; puts the burden on the municipality to defend its actions instead of placing the burden on the individual; and makes it clear the General Assembly is the only elected body that is responsible for passing legislation related to the right to bear arms.
The legislation seeks to maintain uniformity in gun laws across the state and level the playing field for gun owners by allowing recovery of legal fees and damages if the municipality is found in violation of the state’s preemption law.
Senate Bill 565, sponsored by Sen. Cris Dush (R-25), merely decriminalizes the carrying of guns without a license. Use of firearms, whether criminal or for self-defense, is still controlled by other Pennsylvania statutes that remain unchanged.
As of early September, there are 21 states that allow permit-less carry of firearms: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (only available for state residents regarding concealed carry), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
FBI data clearly show that in jurisdictions where law abiding people have the right to both keep and bear arms, those communities are safer.
To illustrate that, in October, a bystander carrying a legal, concealed handgun stopped a shooting situation in Lancaster’s Park City Mall.
“Absent him being there it could have been a very different situation,” said Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams of the bystander and his actions that prevented many more people working or shopping in the mall that day from being hurt or killed.
Both bills now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
“As we’ve seen in the last year and a half, the rights of Americans are being explained away by saying that changes have to be made for the greater good, even when facts show otherwise. The bills my colleagues and I passed today push back on that false narrative and reaffirm the rights we have,” Sen. Stefano said. “We can’t sit idly by as our rights are stripped away, so today we took action.”
As further demonstration of his commitment to preserving the rights of law-abiding citizens, Sen. Stefano introduced legislation to extend the self-defense protections afforded by the Castle Doctrine beyond an individual’s dwelling to his or her property line so citizens are better able to protect themselves, their family and their property.
Senate Bill 943 is expected to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.
CONTACT: Mark Fetzko, email@example.com