Gun Laws

In 2014, 354,603 handguns were purchased or transferred in Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t mean the buyers could lawfully carry the guns outside of their homes.

Two state representatives are sponsoring a free outreach event Aug. 13 at the Avella Volunteer Fire Department so residents can learn about Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver, Washington) and Jason Ortitay (R-Washington, Allegheny) said they hope to clear up confusion about firearm rights.

A gun owner must apply separately for a carry license.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Commonwealth Court heard arguments Wednesday about the constitutionality of a state law that has made it possible for gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), to sue municipalities for their local gun ordinances.

Ken / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh has been granted a stay in the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against a firearm ordinance. That means, the city’s “lost or stolen” ordinance is allowed to stand as the lawsuit proceeds, though the NRA had requested it be halted during the case.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Saying that Pittsburgh and several other cities in the state have “openly defied” state law in passing gun ordinances that are more restrictive than state laws, the National Rifle Association has sued Pittsburgh. 

The move comes one day after Houston-based U.S. Law Shield sued Harrisburg for its firearm laws.

The Second Amendment groups are taking action a week after a new state law went into effect giving such organizations standing to file such suits.

Pennsylvania's capital city is facing a lawsuit believed to be the first filed under a new state law designed to give gun owners and gun rights groups a better chance at dismantling municipal firearms ordinances.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dauphin County court named as defendants the city of Harrisburg and various city officials.

In the eleventh hour of this year’s state legislative session, Republicans are again trying to pass legislation that would allow citizens and groups to sue municipalities that pass gun laws.

House Bill 1796 was drafted by Representative Todd Stephens, a Republican from Montgomery County, and meant to beef up protections for victims of domestic violence.

An amendment approved in the Senate late last night added language that has come before the legislature in the past.

Stephen said he’d prefer to see the bill pass clean.

Permitting School Officials to Carry Concealed Weapons

Sep 19, 2014
Paul Weaver / Flickr

State Senator Don White wants Pennsylvania school districts to be able to permit their staff to carry firearms in school buildings and on the grounds.

Supporters say his proposal would make schools safer but critics are arguing for more police. We talked with Senator White and Shira Goodman, Executive Director of Cease Fire Pennsylvania.

Here is what Essential Pittsburgh listeners on Twitter had to say about Senator White's decision to propose this legislation in response to the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School last spring.

An Update on Recent Firearm Legislation from Harrisburg

Mar 19, 2014
Michael Saechang / Flickr

The state House Judiciary Committee released an agenda on five firearms related bills this week, including an approved measure that would make municipalities that pass gun restrictions susceptible to law suits.

90.5 WESA State Capitol correspondent Mary Wilson says under the municipality bill, challengers of local gun restrictions would have the legal standing necessary to ask for court review of an ordinance.

The Beaver County Borough of Aliquippa of has grappled with violence for decades, though its mayor says things are getting better. In an effort to further reduce violence, Mayor Dwan Walker along with community and faith leaders called on state lawmakers Friday to support stronger background checks for gun sales.

If anyone is still asking whether Republican Pat Toomey did any damage to his reputation, a new survey puts the question to bed: Nope.

The Quinnipiac University poll shows the state’s junior U.S. senator has emerged from his foray into the gun control debate with his highest ever approval rating.

For Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, speaking to the annual conservative confab known as the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference days after the end of his brief foray into the gun debate was like heading into the belly of the beast.

The senator worked the crowd, shaking hands with people who politely told him they disagreed with his support for expanding background checks on firearm purchases. Introductory remarks that touched on Toomey’s failed amendment elicited sounds of dissent from the seated audience.

Senator Toomey on Gun Reform: Where Do We Go From Here?

Apr 18, 2013

  Last week Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin took a bipartisan approach to gun reform that would have extended the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales.  This week, their legislation was blocked in the Senate. We'll talk to Senator Toomey about where gun reform can go from here.

Updated Post: 4:56 p.m.

Senate Republicans, backed by rural-state Democrats, blocked legislation Wednesday to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms, rejecting personal pleas made by families of the victims of last winter's mass elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines also faced certain defeat in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Closing Pennsylvania's Gun Loophole

Apr 11, 2013
Don Shall / Flickr

As talks about gun legislation continue in the U.S. Senate, groups have descended on the state capitol in Harrisburg urging legislators to close a loophole in Pennsylvania's gun laws. State Reps. Steve Santarsiero and Dan Frankel join us to talk about balancing Second Amendment rights with public safety.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is part of a bipartisan effort to apply existing background checks to more kinds of firearm purchases.

The legislation was hammered out by Toomey, Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator, and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, both of whom have strong ties with the National Rifle Association.

"Common ground is found I think based on the proposition that criminals and mentally ill people shouldn’t have guns," he said. "And I don’t think that should be a controversial idea."