Lawmakers introduce universal background check bill

HARRISBURG, May 23 – A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday announced the introduction of a bill to require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Jamie Santora, R- Delaware, Rep. Dom Costa, D-Allegheny, and Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, authored H.B. 1400. The legislation would require background checks for all firearm sales, excluding familial transfers. The bill would additionally allow someone to obtain a multiple-day background check for use at a licensed gun show in Pennsylvania.

“While there is no single solution to the terrible problem of gun violence, there are measures that we can take to save lives. We can increase access and funding for mental health services and reporting; we can enforce the gun laws that we already have; and we can enact sensible legislation where there are gaps in our laws,” Dean said. “House Bill 1400 would close one of these dangerous gaps. Requiring universal background checks is common sense and is supported by 90 percent of Americans and 84 percent of gun owners. Background checks for all gun sales and transfers will save lives.”

The lawmakers emphasized the broad community support for such a measure.

“I’ve always said I’d support reasonable legislation for firearm ownership. I believe that, for the safety of our community, anyone who wishes to purchase a firearm should be required to submit to a background check. It is not only good practice but a good common-sense practice,” Costa said. “The majority of sportsmen and gun owners that I have spoken to agree with universal background checks for the purchase of any firearm. As a former law enforcement officer, and a gun owner who strongly supports the Second Amendment, I stand in support of House Bill 1400 and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

“This is not about stepping on anyone’s Second Amendment right, this is strictly about common sense,” Santora said. “With this bill, any person in Pennsylvania that carries a concealed carry permit will now only have to get one background check per gun show, instead of having to go through the process multiple times.”

The lawmakers were joined Tuesday at a news conference by representatives of CeaseFirePA, a statewide organization working to take a stand against gun violence, and other supporters.

"CeaseFirePA is so pleased that this group of lawmakers has come together to draft a bill that will help keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them,” said Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA. “Almost 90 percent of Pennsylvanians agree that all gun sales should have background checks. This is a bill that gun owners and non-gun owners alike should support."