Muth, Santarsiero cosponsoring assault weapons legislation in Pennsylvania by Charles Yeganian

A bipartisan group of legislators, including LEAPers Katie Muth and Steve Santarsiero, have introduced legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate that would bar the possession, manufacture, import, or sale of assault weapons or high capacity magazines in the Commonwealth.

The bill - SB 292 - grandfathers in current owners, but requires a certificate of possession and sets forth conditions for use and a provision pertaining to the revocation of the certificate. The legislation also does something that gun advocates continually ask regulation-minded lawmakers to do - it sets forth definitions of what an “assault weapon” is. The penalty for a first time offense is a first degree misdemeanor and multiple offenses carries the penalty of a felony in the third degree.

SB 292 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republicans have a 9-5 advantage. LEAP Forward is tracking and grading this legislation and scoring support.

LEAPers Otten, Zabel Co-Sponsoring Mental Health Legislation in PA House by Charles Yeganian

I’m happy to report that Danielle Friel Otten and Mike Zabel, both endorsed members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, have signed on to Rep. Mary Isaacson’s HB 378.

This legislation, which has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, would amend a section of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes pertaining to firearms by including persons who have been ordered to undergo mental health treatments among those who are barred from possessing, selling, buying, or transferring guns. It also prohibits them from obtaining a firearm license.

The Judiciary Committee, which includes Rep. Zabel and LEAPer Melissa Shusterman, is controlled by Republicans, who hold a 15-10 advantage on the panel. No upcoming meetings have been scheduled at this time.

So far in the filing period, Zabel, Otten, Shusterman and Isaacson all have perfect A+ grades for their sponsorship of legislation.

Santarsiero Co-Sponsors Bill Restricting Firearm Possession by Charles Yeganian

Pennsylvania Democrats continue to introduce gun regulatory legislation in the state legislature, and LEAPer Steve Santarsiero continues to be a standout in sponsoring these bills.

In addition to SB 137 and SB 138, submitted with Sen. Santarsiero as the primary sponsor, he has signed on as a cosponsor of SB 198, legislation that would increase the universe of people who are restricted from possessing firearms in the Commonwealth. Among the nineteen new enumerated offenses are:

  • Posession of a firearm in a court facility

  • Terroristic threats

  • Human trafficking

  • Sexual assault

  • Sexual abuse of children

  • Disarming a police officer

LEAP Forward is grading all three of these bills, scoring support, and I thank Sen. Santarsiero and the other Democrats sponsoring this legislation. The bill now goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Pittsburgh to Decide on Three Gun Control Measures by Charles Yeganian

Evan Simko-Bednarski, CNN:

If passed, the proposed laws will ban assault weapons and extended magazines from the city, as well as allow courts to temporarily take guns away from individuals deemed to pose a significant danger to themselves or others.

The proposals, which were unveiled on Friday, the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, are likely to face legal challenges from gun rights advocates, who say the city council's proposed measures are illegal.

State law says local municipalities and counties can't pass gun control measures.


City and state leaders were joined by gun violence victims and advocates to announce the measures Friday, the anniversary of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Officials hope the bills, which will be subject to weeks of debates and hearings, can be approved by Feb. 14 -- the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

PA State Rep. Frankel To File Anti-Preemption Legislation by Charles Yeganian

From Liz Navratil, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Mr. Frankel, whose district includes the [Tree of Life] synagogue, is pitching two bills that would seek to remove so-called “pre-emption language” from either state law or the Allegheny County code. Pennsylvania courts have ruled that such language prohibits cities from enacting gun laws that differ substantially from state law, striking down, for example, assault weapon bans in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“What I’m trying to do is, basically, change those laws and remove the pre-emption for local governments and allow them to move forward in light of the fact that the state has been unable or unwilling to address the issues,” Mr. Frankel said.

Pittsburgh Weighs Going It Alone on Gun Regulation by Charles Yeganian

After the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, elected officials in Pittsburgh are considering how to avoid state-level preemption laws in order to strengthen gun regulation in the city. From Jon Delano, KDKA:


Mayor Peduto alluded to stronger gun control measures at the Rally for Peace last Friday.

“Strength is not about how many guns you have,” the mayor said. “Strength is made by the compassion of your heart. And let us gather today to make sure as we move forward, we move forward as one America, working on common sense reform that will end this type of violence.”

It’s still unclear what city officials are planning, says Councilman Corey O’Connor, who’s working with the mayor.

Shira Goodman, who is the executive director of CeaseFire PA, pointed to specific weak points in current state law, including license and permitting, waiting periods, training requirements, and background check loopholes. The barrier to Pittsburgh taking action on its own is that state law prevents cities from passing stronger gun regulations than the state. Combined with national legislation like Concealed Carry Reciprocity, preemption laws are another mechanism to subvert local control when it comes to gun regulation and force a one-size-fits-all approach to firearm laws in areas of states with dramatically different priorities when it comes to the issue.

If and how the city can get around these restrictions remains to be seen, and will set a precedent for other cities who are tired of having their rights to protect their people restricted.