Pa. GOP Lawmaker Holds Rare Hearings on Bills Related to Gun Laws

Steve Tawa
April 09, 2018 - 1:03 pm
Gun Laws
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee is joining what has been a national narrative about changing gun laws by holding the first of four-days of hearings in Harrisburg. 

An even number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are lined up to testify, rather than gun control advocates or gun rights supporters. 

Among them, State Representative Todd Stephens of Montgomery County, who is pushing a "Red Flag" bill to temporarily remove guns from people suspected of being threats to themselves or others.

"Studies show that most of those committing mass shootings and suicides are obtaining their guns legally," Stephens said.

His proposal creates extreme risk protection orders in the Commonwealth.

"Like a protection of abuse order, a preliminary order could be granted immediately," Stephens explained, "if there was sufficient evidence of danger."

Similar laws are in place in five states, and are being considered in more than 30 other states, as well as Congress.

Other lawmakers also say there is more support now for universal background checks on gun sales.

Gun control advocates say the fact that the Judiciary Committee is holding hearings is telling, because for decades, the committee was a "graveyard where gun sense legislation went to die." 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico, a Republican from Dauphin County, says he was "moved to schedule the hearings" because of the mass shootings at schools in Parkland and Sandy Hook, the nightclub in Orlando, and the music festival in Las Vegas.

"I want this to be very clear, I have been an A-plus member of the NRA throughout my legislative career," Marsico said. "That didn't happen by mistake. That's because I believe in value of the Second Amendment."

Marsico says while he is "seeking solutions" on proposed bills related to gun laws, he also wants to avoid "overreacting." He says too often, any talk about firearms legislation falls into subtle and not very subtle insults - ranging from "Second Amendment supporters don't care about safety at schools," to gun-rights supporters believing any gun legislation will lead to "confiscation." He says both are "nonsense."