Wednesday, November 21, 2007

PA Update: WE WON

Yesterday I went to Harrisburg along with GeekWithA.45 and Egregious Charles to attend the meeting of the PA House Judiciary Committee, which was considering three gun control laws. The primary drivers of the proposed legislation were from Philadelphia, and Governor Ed Rendell (D). In an unusual move, Rendell appeared before the committee to testify in favor of the bills. He gave a 45 minute passionate speech, full of the usual anti-gun cliches: "If it saves one life ...," "Common sense ...," "We dont' want to take guns away from hunters...." Blah, blah, blah. Nowhere in his speed did he provide real reasons why the proposed laws would reduce crime.

HB-18 would allow local municipalities to enact their own gun control laws, repealing state preemption which was enacted in 1995. Its supporters contend that this is needed to fight crime.

HB-22 would enact one gun per month legislation. It was put forth as a means of fighting straw purchases.

HB-29 would make it a crime for a gun owner to fail to report to the police the loss of theft of a gun. This was proposed as a means of assisting law enforcement in tracing guns later used in crimes.

HB-18 failed by a vote of 19-10. HB-22 failed 17-12. HB-29 was tabled for later consideration. It is expected to be reintroduced later after its sponsors "fix" certain provisions which other members of the committee had previously expressed reservations about. The motion to table came from the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jewell Williams (D-Philly), who saw that otherwise it was about to go down in flames.

One bill did make it out of committee. It would enhance penalties for killing or attempting to kill police officers.

Afterwards, Rep. Ronald Marsico (R - Dauphin County) reamed Rendell, "Public safety has not been a priority for this governor," and proceeded to catalog a list of ways in which the governor has failed to take meaningful steps to fight crime, such as putting more police on the streets.

Also afterwards, a rep who's name I didn't catch pleaded with the committee for limited gun control measure, such as enacting laws with a 1 or 2 year sunset provision. His desperation was evident.

The NRA and local PA RKBA groups had blitzed PA gun owners with warnings about these bills. There was a decent turnout of pro-liberty folks, not much turnout from the gun banners except for the usual police officers sent for Rendell's photo-op.

Except for a few areas in Pennsylvania (most notably Philadelphia), gun control remains very unpopular. Voting in favor of gun control legislation in most of PA is considered a sure way to get fired by the voters. We'll have to work to keep it that way.

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