A new bill to extend criminal background checks to all purchases of firearms was formally unveiled Tuesday in Harrisburg.
State Rep. Jamie Santora’s, R-163 of Drexel Hill, House Bill 1400 will add a paragraph to section 6111 of the state code, sale or transfer of firearms, to include a background check for the sale of all guns . Current state law requires a background check for the purchase of handguns with a barrel less than 15 inches. The bill will also offer a multi-day background check approval for use at lawful gun shows in the state. The bill was presented on the House floor May 18 and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Santora said it is a “common-sense” bill.
“We’re not trying to take away Second Amendment rights. Anyone who has a gun should have a background check,” he said. “If it saves one life, I did my job.”
The bill is said to “ensure that individuals attempting to obtain a firearm are authorized to possess such weapons,” according to a January memo to the House.
Included is a provision to permit the validity of a background check for 72 hours by which a person may purchase revolvers, shotguns or rifles at a lawful gun show, meet or auction in the state. An instant background check is presently performed by any professionally licensed dealer at gun shows which will then provide a valid receipt and unique approval number for the extended-use check at such events.
A background check for the transfer of guns between families remains excluded in the proposed legislation.
Santora said speaking with Margie Reiley, whose son Jason Scott McClay was murdered in 2013 while working as a manager at a Chester Rite Aid, boosted his involvement on the issue.
“It was important to her and that’s what brought it about,” he said.
Two of McClay’s convicted murderers were charged with carrying a firearm without a license.
Joining Santora as co-prime sponsors are former Pittsburgh police chief and current state Rep. Dom Costa, D-21 of Pittsburgh, and Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-153 of Abington.
“While there is no single solution to this terrible problem, there are measures that can and must be taken. HB 1400 would accomplish one of those measures by closing Pennsylvania’s background check loophole in firearms purchases by requiring universal background checks on all gun sales,” said Dean through a House spokesperson. “This step is common sense; it is what 90 percent of the public wants, and it will save lives.”
Costa could not be reached for comment.
The bill had bipartisan support with more than 50 representatives signing on to the bill, including six from Delaware County: Brian Kirkland, D-159 of Chester; Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore; Nick Miccarelli, R-162 of Ridley Park; Alex Charlton, R-165 of Springfield; Greg Vitali, D-166 of Haverford; and Chris Quinn, R-168 of Middletown.