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She isn't at all happy with the Pennsylvania Senate. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
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By Marc Levy, AP

Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Tuesday approved two veto-bound firearms bills, including one to allow people to carry a loaded gun openly or concealed, without a permit, and another to punish municipalities that impose firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Despite a certain veto from Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, floor debate lasted nearly three hours, as Democrats warned that the result of such legislation becoming law would be more death and more violence amid already-spiking gun violence and the spread of illegal guns.

Republicans brushed aside the arguments, saying cities elsewhere with strict gun laws still have problems with gun violence and that law-abiding gun owners should not need the government’s permission to carry a firearm.

“This is about our Second Amendment and our right to bear arms,” said Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, during floor arguments. “The Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about restrictions on our right to bear arms.”

Debate became testy after the sponsor of the permitless-carry bill, Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, a former corrections officer, seemed to re-enact a conversation he suggested he might have once had with a young inmate, and then blamed violence on young men who lack father figures.

Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, took exception to Dush’s portrayal, saying that his rendering of the inmate’s accent and his reference to Philadelphia youth was stereotyping and insensitive, and an “affront to many fathers who lost their lives to gun violence.”

Some young men grow up without father figures because their fathers were “murdered by a gun,” through no fault of their own, Williams said.

The bills passed with near-universal Republican support and backing from at least one Democrat. Republicans, meanwhile, blocked Democrats’ amendments, including one to end a background check exception for private sales of shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles.

The Republican-penned bills go to the House of Representatives, which has already passed similar legislation on municipal ordinances. The Republican-controlled chamber has not moved on concealed-carry legislation.

Pennsylvanians are generally allowed to openly carry loaded firearms, although the law is silent on it.

Only in Philadelphia is a permit required for it.

But the legislation passed Tuesday would remove Philadelphia’s open-carry permit requirement, as well as the state’s requirement for people to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, including storing it in their car. People under 21 cannot get such a permit, although the law allows anyone 18 and older to own a gun. The bill passed, 29-21, with one Republican opposing it and one Democrat in favor.

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, as do several other law enforcement organizations.

“What this bill does is it makes it easier for people who should not have a gun to walk around with it,” said Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia. “That means people are going to die.”

The Pennsylvania State Police reported just over 311,000 licenses to carry firearms were issued by county sheriffs’ offices and the city of Philadelphia in 2020, a 35% increase over 2019.

The other bill would revive legislation long-sought by gun-rights organizations to expand standing in court to sue a municipality over a firearms ordinance and collect damages from a losing municipality. The bill passed, 31-19, with every Republican and two Democrats in favor of it.

A similar bill was signed into law in 2014 by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, but later struck down in court on a technicality. Wolf threatened to veto a previous bill, in 2016, before it died without reaching his desk.

Pennsylvania has long prohibited its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition. But gun-rights groups complain municipalities often ignore the decades-old prohibition by approving their own gun restrictions.

Court precedent had held that someone only has standing to sue if they were prosecuted for violating such an ordinance, although the state Supreme Court last month overturned that precedent.

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79 COMMENTS

    • There should be but I am not holding my breath. The best we ever get of the eternally R controlled PA legislature is not letting anything worse get passed. And we have to beg and plead for that.

      • “Not letting anything worse get passed” is quite the achievement in that part of the country, especially given some of the population shifts. There’s also the fact that I walked out of my sheriff’s office with a permit in about ten minutes, at a time when most states were may-issue (and even Texas was no-issue!).

        In terms of gun rights, PA is much farther “south” of NY, MD, and now even VA than it is geographically.

        • It’s not an achievement. It’s a scam. An achievement would be constitutional carry, eliminating the PICS (nota)registry, eliminating the need for a LTCF for vehicle carry, emergency carry, and Philly carry, changing the law and reciprocity agreements so that PA residents are “any person” again, Sunday hunting, semi auto big game hunting, reforming the 302/303 mental health laws/regulations, a Firearms Freedom Act, knife preemption, decriminalization of switchblades, or some backup against the Federal mandates for those of us refusing the Fauci ouchie.

          The fact of the matter is that even when the Rs controlled the governors mansion, the legislature, and the courts in PA they have not done shit

        • Reminds me I need to figure out what county sheriff I need to go to for a nonresident PA permit.

        • So being one of the first shall-issue states, and having essentially zero restrictions on “scary” guns, while stuck between a state where practically all handgun ownership requires (rarely given) permission and one that even prohibits hollow points (!), is a “scam”?

          I guess a ghetto kid who rises through a superb education, career, and family “has not done shit” if he hasn’t also won Olympic gold, a Nobel Prize, and invented cold fusion while hanging upside-down blindfolded?

        • neiowa,
          I believe the original phrase was “The soft bigotry of low expectations,” and I hear where you’re coming from, but there’s something to be said for realistic expectations.

          Is a military worthless and a “scam” if it isn’t constantly conquering new territories and preemptively striking enemies before a single friendly is hurt, or is there such a thing as defense?

          Expectations are all about context. Here in the US – with advantageous geography, a large expensive military, and most of the world’s advanced nations as allies – people expect the military to fight “away games” and condemn any attack on Americans (even overseas) as a massive failure – just as it’s easy to expect consistent 2A victories in the Deep South or Wyoming. OTOH, a small country surrounded (and infiltrated) by enemies can be justifiably proud of a series of painful, exhausting, but eventually successful defensive campaigns.

          PA has been successfully defended, time and again, against the countless Sharif Streets who strive constantly to turn it into NY, NJ, MD, DC, or MA. It has done so despite the gradual but accelerating population swing toward its big blue cities. And, again, PA had shall-issue before Wyoming and most of the South.

        • you guys are all forgetting good ole New Jersey! The original Communist state! Our states Governor “Commrad Phil Murphy” said on national T.V. and i quote” You already know how i feel, only the military and law enforcement should be allowed to have a firearm” end quote!!! VA is only now catching up to the Hypocritical and corruption of the Left!!! I live in the 1st Red county and the 1st 2A sanctuary county in the state. It dosnt help much ,although other counties have followed in our foot steps we dont have enough counties ot make it law! :>/ So i plan to use some of the money from the sale of my home here in the bluest state of the union and buy some land in “free” state! Im actually thinking about WV or maybe northern Tenn. ? I just want a place i can go and get up on any day and have a coffee and if i want to go out on my back Deck and plink at targets? A place i can go and not have to worry if one of my neighbors dont get a stick up their craw and call the cops saying im being threatening and get my guns confiscated? Its already happening! X-girlfriends or co-workers that you didnt get along with or any stranger that is walking down the street if they know your into guns and dont like that or have a problem with the way you blew your nose they can get your rights stripped from you! Im done with American society at this point! I want a piece of land in a free state that i can enjoy any way i so please! May GOD help me in my queast!? Also may forever and always “only” GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! :>)

        • BigMikeU,
          I am trying hard to forget NJ, where I was stationed once over my vehement protests, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

          I don’t know that there are any free states any more; they all suck hard in one way or another. I transferred out of VA before it went to Hell. NV looked like paradise for a while, but their new “Ghost Gun” law prohibits building guns (which I actually enjoy more than shooting). Best of luck to you!

  1. The look on the face of that mom who demands action, and gets none is the look all Leftist Scum should have…

  2. If the arms folded lemon face grandma’s shirt summed up Truth About Gun Control Rot her shirt would say, “Nazi Moms Demand Action.”

  3. “Some young men grow up without father figures because their fathers were ‘murdered by a gun,’ through no fault of their own, Williams said.”

    some, sure. but in that demographic the single biggest reason males grow up with no fathers is because the father, once he finds a new crib, never shows his face again.

    • And he doesn’t have to ever show his face again because the baby momma can depend on the state to pay the bills and don’t need no man. If she couldn’t depend on the free ride she would have to legs together until a guy came along who would stick around. But that would solve the problem and the politicians can’t have that.

  4. “That means people are going to die.”

    people who carry a gun to shoot someone are already doing so. people who feel the need to carry a gun to defend themselves are already doing so. this law won’t change much.

    (course this guy is not bothered by people dying, what bothers him is citizens carrying firearms.)

  5. amazing! One moronic Lawmaker said there were young men who grew up without a father because he was murdered by a gun. What a Bald-faced Liar! Never has a gun murdered anyone. The murderer performs the act. The tool is immaterial, as inanimate objects are incapable of acting independently. I refuse to get rid of all my hammers because I smash my thumb with one! The Hammer didn’t do it, I did!

  6. “People who should not have a gunm to walk around with it.”
    Locks keep honest people honest.
    The bad guys do whatever they want.

  7. We have constitutional carry up here in Maine, and let me tell you, it’s nothing but BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD everywhere!!!11!

    Brain-splatter on all the stop signs, dismembered arms & legs strewn about the streets. Little girls, cold & hungry, asking “why? Why? WHY did the republicans kill my mommy?!?”

    There’s a good reason they call us “maineiacs”.

    • sounds like a good place to rent boats for traveling on the rivers of blood that, according to anti-gun people and dacian, are flowing in states like yours.

  8. “What this bill does is it makes it easier for people who should not have a gun.”

    Translation: Everyone who isn’t Sen. Sharif Street, party approved cronies, or vetted security for the same.

    Three words asshat, sic semper tyrannis.

  9. Republicans once again prove they promote living in “The land of Lunatics.”. In every study done when carrying a gun did not require a background check and a test to understand state laws using deadly force unnecessary killings occurred because people did not understand when they could or could not shoot someone and many lacked even basic safe gun handling knowledge which often resulted in accidental discharges in public places often wounding and even killing innocent people.

    Foreign people have often asked me “What is wrong with you Americans have you all lost your minds”? I respond to them saying that we live in a land where our educational system has failed us and lunacy with firearms is considered normal behavior. It reminds me of Rome and the coliseum where people thought it normal to see people in the arena suffer and die for their entertainment. At least the Romans eventually did become civilized and outlawed the games but not the Americans they are as brutal and barbaric as Ancient Rome ever was and brush off over 38,000 gun deaths a year as completely normal. It would have shocked even the Romans in ancient times.

    Out of all the industrialized nations Capitalvania is the most brutal and uncivilized place on earth where people die like dogs in the street both from gunfire and lack of affordable health care and affordable life saving drugs. People freeze to death in winter because they must sleep under bridges compared to civilized industrialized countries that provide public housing, and or rent subsidies and have sane gun laws that prevent lunatics and criminals from buying guns 365 days a year with no questions asked. Its pure insanity.

    In Capitalvania life is considered cheap and expendable. Blind greed rules and the only thing missing is the sound of the Leader saying “Let the games begin for those who are about to die salute you”. I am sure today Republicans would vote to start “the games” once again.

  10. Higher rates of mass shootings in US states with more relaxed gun control laws

    Widening gap in deaths emerging between these states and those with more restrictive laws

    US states with more relaxed gun control laws and higher rates of gun ownership have higher rates of mass shootings, reveals a time trends analysis, published today in The BMJ.

    And the gap in the rate of mass shootings between these states and those with more restrictive laws seems to have widened in recent years, the findings show.

    Previous research suggests that more relaxed (‘permissive’) state laws and greater numbers of gun owners are linked to higher rates of gun deaths by murder and suicide.

    But despite the seemingly disproportionate occurrence of mass shootings in some states and not in others, it’s not clear how legislation and ownership might influence this.

    To try and explore this further, the researchers used the 1998-2015 editions of the Traveler’s Guide to the Firearms Laws of the Fifty States.

    This guide, which is published annually, scores the firearm laws for each of the 50 US states, from 0 (completely restrictive) to 100 (completely permissive).

    The score is derived from 13 different factors, including permit requirements; magazine capacity (for semi-automatics); if and where guns can be carried and kept; and whether the right to self defence is enshrined in the state legislation.

    To gauge the level of gun ownership, which is not directly surveyed across all 50 states, the researchers used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on the percentage of suicides committed using a firearm, as a proxy measure.

    Data on mass shootings in each state, bar Florida, were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Uniform Crime Reporting System for the years 1998 to 2015.

    Between 1998 and 2014, the average score for each state, irrespective of whether it was ‘restrictive’ or ‘permissive,’ shifted towards greater permissiveness by 0.16 units every year.

    Massachusetts had the most restrictive gun laws, while Vermont had the most relaxed ones throughout this period, during which 344 mass shootings occurred.

    Around three out of four of these (263; 76.5%) were classified as ‘non-domestic’ to include acquaintances, employees, employers, friends, neighbours, strangers, and extended family members.

    The remainder (81; 23.5%) were classified as ‘domestic’ where the victims were first degree relatives or partners.

    Yearly changes in the rates of mass shootings showed that, on average, restrictive states had lower rates of mass shootings than most permissive states, for most years.

    And from 2010 onwards, the gap between permissive and restrictive states started to widen, with rates falling in restrictive states and rising in permissive states.

    Levels of gun ownership were also significantly associated with mass shooting rates.

    After taking account of key factors, a 10 unit increase in state gun law permissiveness, as defined by the scale, was associated with an 11.5% higher rate of mass shootings.

    These findings held true, even when different factors were accounted for and whether or not the mass shootings were perpetrated by someone in a close relationship with the victims.

    And a 10% increase in gun ownership was associated with a more than 35% higher rate of mass shootings.

    “On the absolute scale, this means that a state like California, which has approximately two mass shootings per year, will have an extra mass shooting for every 10 unit increase in permissiveness over five years,” explain the researchers.

    “It will also have three to five more mass shootings per five years for every 10 unit increase in gun ownership,” they add.

    This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, added to which the scoring system used has not been validated, although it was drawn up by lawyers for gun owners. Concerns have been voiced about potential under reporting to the FBI crime reporting system, note the researchers.

    Nevertheless, they conclude: “Our analyses show that US state gun laws have become more permissive in recent decades, and that a growing divide in rates of mass shootings appears to be emerging between restrictive and permissive states.

    [Ends]

    06/03/2019

    Research: State gun laws, gun ownership, and mass shootings in the US: cross sectional time series
    Journal: The BMJ
    https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l542

  11. Dacian, we have always had “mass shootings”. The incidents are just better reported due to the 24 hour news cycle of the media. The vast amount of shootings mass or otherwise have occured with the USE of ILLEGALLY obtained firearms.
    Oh, incidentally, your “bmj.com”? It’s a left wing anti-gun operation. In other words blatant propaganda. But isn’t that your stock in trade?

    • To Walt

      Any info and study not done by Fox News or other far right propaganda machines is labeled as fake news by Walt. He is a study in right wing ignorance.

      And remember he has stated he is more educated than University Professors.

  12. Dacian conveniently forgets to mention that most “mass shootings” are gang related. He also forgets to mention that most are criminals doing the shooting, not people who are considered otherwise law abiding. And he really, really forgot to mention that something like 7 out of 8 “mass shooters” are blacks, hence the gang related thing and the fact that most of the shooters have criminal records.

    • johnnyred, not to mention dacian forgets that most of the “mass shootings” are done with illegal firearms that his “universal background check” would not stop. And the Socialist media has even changed the definition of “mass shooting” to fit their anti-gun agenda.

      • To Walt

        You conveniently left out the part that many were done with ghost guns and un-vetted second hand guns which Universal Background checks would have stopped. Try again stable genius.

        • I don’t know where the hell your living, but in Pennsylvania ANY sale of a handgun has to go through a dealer, and a background check. no exceptions.

          Please keep saying “Ghost Guns”. There probably is a mental patient or criminal somewhere that never heard that, and will now Google it.

          You remind me of those folks screeching “Cop Killer Bullets!” over and over, and telling every criminal who wanted to kill cops to “shoot them in the head” to avoid the Kevlar vest.

    • To Johnny

      Most of the mass shootings were done by white people with no prior criminal records. Many were done at schools again by all white people. I can think off hand of only few done by minorities. The FBI has stated the greatest danger to the U.S. is by white terrorists as they have done the majority of attacks.

      • Dacian, how about your ANTIFA and BLM thugs? I do believe that your ANTIFA folks are in fact terrorists. There is a guy in NYS who heads BLM there who is threatening riots and burning the city down if he doesn’t get his way. What would you call that?

        • dacian, WOW! It’s so obvious that you are the real racist here and fanciful about your outlook as to what constitutes “racism”.
          The cold hard facts are that your ANTIFA and BLM thugs engaged in rioting, buring, and multiple assaults against people and businesses. You think that Portland and Seattle were festivals? Those are the cold hard facts.

  13. “What this bill does is it makes it easier for people who should not have a gun to walk around with it,” said Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia.

    Is the senator aware that people who should not have a gun are ALREADY walking around with guns??

  14. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania since I was born, and watched politics. There is NOT the votes in the House or senate to override Wolf’s veto. So I doubt the House will take it up seriously.

    It’s just spending political capitol to achieve nothing. Wolf has to leave office, and the Democrat running to replace him lose, AND a Republican who is really dedicated to gun rights (Not a RINO who pays lip service to it, but opposes it secretly.) win the Election, and Democrats make no great gains in either House.

    That’s a lot of moving parts to get to the goal. then Philadelphia, which has a huge population, will often refuse to play ball on anything, like the state budget, if it gets passed. So lots of things get introduced and passed (Usually in the Senate.), and die quietly from neglect each session because no one wants to spend the political capital to win on something they don’t consider important.

    Our state constitution, and legislature procedures and regulations are long and complicated to not give anyone unlimited power to dominate the law making process in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia uses that to their advantage and will stymie things like highways, state budgets, or anything to get what they want.

    The Elections shenanigans in Philadelphia has been going on since I was born over 50 years ago, and their House delegation has stymied ANY investigation for decades. Hell their control of the state supreme court (By voting numbers only.) allowed them to defy the state constitution, and put in mail in voting, and Republicans stupidly walked right into it!

    I think they voted in the “Election Reform Bill”, and then had second thoughts afterwards, and figured if they didn’t allow a state constitutional amendment process to proceed, it would be “dead in the water”.

    The Supreme Court (State) took the 180 day objection part, said nobody objected to it (Because the court dismissed their cases due to “standing”. Oh no election yet, “No Standing”.) so it was legal. Seven of the nine justices are Democrats, and it shows.

    • Dco77,
      I was transferred out of state long ago, and chose to retire elsewhere because of both the political and physical climate. Thank you for providing the details behind what I attempted to explain in broader terms above.

      • People don’t often know that in Pennsylvania, due to our “Shall Issue” law there are more gun licenses (PA. has “License to Carry Firearms, not a permit.) per capita then even Texas. It’s just Texas has 10 million more people, and people look at raw numbers, not per capita for population.

        Our system is you apply, and basically if you pass the background check (Called PICS, run by the PSP.), they issue the license. First time it may take a few weeks, and of course Philadelphia jerks you around as long as possible.

        There is no training requirement, nothing. Apply, pass the background check, it is issued. At one point (I don’t know about now.) the NRA had an individual zone just for Pennsylvania. Texas and California, with their huge populations never had their own zones, not enough members. Yet a smaller state had more members than California!

        Gun control has a certain footing here, because of all the NJ and NY transplants, and of course Philly, but it’s reach is a lot smaller than it’s big mouth (and noise) is.

        Lots of things going downhill here, but guns not quite yet. Just remember the voters voted to limit the governor’s emergency powers by constitutional amendment of Wolf’s overreaching.

        I also tell you democrats are going to pay a high price for that little 2020 election fiasco. They won that battle, but payback (Sometimes even covertly supported by rural Democrats.) will be forthcoming for them. t might take years, but they’ll do it.

        You know the Bud Dwyer trial and public suicide it caused? That inspired the song “Hey Man, Nice Shot”? The Republican governor who was behind it, Dick Thornburg never got anything out of Pennsylvania politics after that. Sure he got a Bush administration post, but everyone of BOTH parties turned their back on him for that travesty.

        He was “persona non grata” after that everywhere in PA. politics, even if no public disapproval was ever voiced. His career was DOA over that one.

        • Dco77,
          I’m not sure if you saw my earlier comment, but I was shocked when I got my PA permit in 1995: Driver’s license, phone call, “Do you have a check?” 5-10 minutes (which makes me want to throat-kick people who propose expanding the 3-day “instant” check window, which worked perfectly then but supposedly needs more time after orders of magnitude improvements in bandwidth, data storage, etc.). I remember Thornburg, but didn’t remember the Dwyer incident.

          I was always amazed by the contrast with Upstate NY, where like-minded people lived a completely different life under the boot of NYC, but PA seems headed in the same direction. Not only have the cities outbred the center as many of us have left for other opportunities, but many of the socially conservative workers who remained have aged into retirees who vote for the side promising a bigger check.

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