Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one of the bills that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Under current Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to sell a firearm to a person who is known to not be allowed to possess firearms.
However, background checks are only required during the private sale of a firearm if it is for a short barreled firearm.
Typically, long guns can be privately bought and sold in the state without a background check. A new bill would change that and require background checks be completed for nearly all types of firearm transfers within the state.
House Bill 1400 — introduced by Rep. James Santora, R-Delaware County; Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny County; and Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery County — would require all transfers of firearms be conducted in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff.
“Ultimately, this legislation would require background checks be conducted for each firearm purchase, which will ensure that individuals attempting to obtain a firearm are authorized to possess such weapons,” the three sponsors wrote in a co-sponsorship letter.
Transfers of firearms between family members, currently allowed by law without background checks, would remain legal, according to the co-sponsorship letter.
The bill would create a multiday background check approval for use during licensed gun shows.
“With such an approval, a consumer could shop during that multiple-day period without having to pay for multiple background checks, should he or she decide to make more than one purchase,” the letter states.
A Gallup poll in 2015 found more than 80 percent of respondents approved of universal background checks on all firearm purchases.
In Cumberland County, 124 people were charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person between 2010 and 2015, and more than 40 people were charged with making materially false statements when purchasing, transferring or delivering a firearm in 2016, according to Cumberland County Insight.