Amazing! A sensible gun law in Pa.

Posted: October 29, 2012

IT HAS LONG SEEMED that pigs would fly before the state Legislature passed a sensible bill on lost and stolen guns and the governor signed it. Of course, if pigs did fly, someone from the National Rifle Association would try to shoot them down.

But the seemingly impossible has happened. House Bill 898 passed the Senate, 49-0, earlier this month and on Thursday Gov. Corbett signed it.

This law should put pressure on those who attempt straw purchases - the buying of guns by people who are entitled to have them and the subsequent sale of the weapons to criminals who are not.

The trouble for law enforcement has been that if police find that the guns were used in committing a crime, the sellers can use the excuse that the guns had been lost or stolen.

But HB 898 is not the much-discussed statute that would require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to the authorities or risk being penalized. What this measure does instead is change existing law so that a mandatory five-year prison term for repeat straw-purchase offenders can be applied to multiple concurrent offenses.

The bill passed the House, 186-10, in April 2011, but the Senate took action only after the arrest of a straw purchaser who allegedly provided nine guns to a convicted felon who last month shot to death Officer Bradley Fox from Plymouth Township, outside Philadelphia.

But let's not be carried away with congratulations. The bill that passed and the bill that languished on lost-and-stolen firearms are complementary. It's not too much to ask law-abiding gun owners - and certainly it does not infringe on their Second Amendment rights - to be responsible and report missing firearms.


This first appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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