Government
4:00 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Two Sides Battle Over Gun Control Bill

A coalition against gun violence is standing in opposition to state House bill 1523 which allows for the National Rifle Association to take to court any municipality that uses gun control law more strict than the state.

Max Nacheman, executive director for CeaseFirePA, said the rights of local municipalities to require reporting lost or stolen guns are in the language of the law. While they are prohibited from superseding state legislation when it comes to lawful gun use, ownership, transfer or transportation, but he said this is a different case.

"When a firearm is lost or stolen, there's nothing lawful about it," Nacheman said. "The lawful owner no longer possesses it, the person who does possess it, doesn't possess it lawfully. If it was stolen, it was unlawful transfer, or if it was stolen or given to somebody without a background check, that was unlawful as well."

Nacheman and the coalition are specifically concerned about the ability of local governments in urban centers to require lost or stolen weapons to be reported within 24 hours. According to the Black Political Empowerment Project, more than 90 percent of firearms found at crime scenes were found to be lost or stolen firearms, with only half of them reported prior to recovery. He said it shouldn't be hard to find support from the people of Pennsylvania.

"For most law abiding gun owners, there isn't much convincing to do," Nacheman said. "We've done statewide polling all over the state; 96 percent of Pennsylvanian's support a lost or stolen handgun reporting requirement, including 92 percent of Pennsylvania gun owners."

H.B. 1523 was first considered in the House early last month and was laid on the table again March 12. The strong reaction from opponents of the bill comes days after John Shick used two semi-automatic handguns to kill a man and injure six in the Western Psychiatric Hospital in Oakland. The handguns used by the shooter, one of which was stolen, were traced to Texas.

Bill sponsor Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) did not return calls for comment.