PA state capitol building in Harrisburg

2023 PA Gun Legislation You Should Know About

Gun owners should be paying close attention to the state legislature, where the state House of Representatives has advanced two new proposed Pennsylvania gun laws to the state senate, with another narrowly defeated and a fourth still waiting to potentially be heard. Powered through by a one-seat majority in the lower house, these initiatives are far from bipartisan measures but instead serve as yet another political dividing line in a culture war that sees gun shows, bedrooms, and boardrooms becoming the battleground. While proponents tout these initiatives as public safety proposals, Second Amendment rights activists will need to make it clear these new Pennsylvania gun control measures aren’t right for the Keystone state, placing an undue burden on your civil rights as well as your local gun shows and the businesses that sell legal firearms to law-abiding citizens.

A Political Push To Police Gun Owners

handgun sitting next to a gavel

With a narrow majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democrat and Democrat-aligned legislators have worked to push through their campaign platform. While not focused on other issues, new Pennsylvania gun laws have received plenty of attention thanks to the media buzz surrounding this always contentious and controversial topic. The result was four separate bills passed through committee in April 2023 that sought to change Pennsylvania gun control and gun sales laws.

House Bill 338 – Mandatory Reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms

Under this proposed Pennsylvania gun law, gun owners would be required to report their weapons lost or stolen to law enforcement authorities within 72 hours of the discovery of their disappearance. Along with a laundry list of details, they would also be required to report “any other information deemed necessary by the officer or police department…” creating not only a burden to report but also to allow invasive scrutiny into whatever aspects of their lives law enforcement chose to probe. The first offense would be punishable by a fine with subsequent failures to report within the timeframe, escalating to more severe misdemeanors.

Result: Failed Vote to Advance

House Bill 714 – Mandatory Background Checks on Private Sales of Long Guns

This proposed Pennsylvania gun control law extends the provisions that apply to private pistol sales to long guns, taking direct aim at the gun shows people love to buy, sell, and trade guns at. Currently, long gun transactions between private in-state residents require no background check, instead relying on gun owners to responsibly handle the sale and transfer of their weapons. Under the new law, private gun sales of all types would need to be processed by a state-licensed gun dealer or the county sheriff’s office, who would perform a full background check, collecting personal information to approve or deny the sale.

Result: Passed and Moving to Senate for Consideration

House Bill 731 – Safe Storage Bill

The Safe Storage Bill puts a burden on both retailers and owners in an attempt to use Pennsylvania gun laws to increase the cost of buying and selling firearms while making it harder to defend yourself with a legally owned firearm. The first part of this provision requires all guns to be sold with a trigger lock at the purchaser’s expense or provided at the expense of the retailer, which would then, of course, be passed onto the buyer in the form of higher prices. The second part of this proposed Pennsylvania gun control law would require any gun owner to store their weapon in a locked box, secured by a trigger lock, or locked out by an integral mechanism in the firearm that prevents its operation, making the process of retrieving and readying your weapon in a self-defense scenario long and onerous. Punishments range from statutory and misdemeanor penalties if the gun owner is simply caught not adhering to the law to being charged with a felony if another person is found in possession of the weapon.
Result: Not Yet Brought to Vote

House Bill 1018 – Red Flag Law

This Pennsylvania gun control statute is about taking guns away from citizens who have not been convicted of a crime in a court of law. While the intention sounds reasonable to some on paper–removing weapons from an individual a judge finds may be a danger to themselves or others–anytime a penalty can be enacted before a crime is committed should spark concern among civil rights advocates. This bill would require a law enforcement officer or another private citizen willing to request an extreme risk protection order to bring the matter before a judge to determine if the gun owner’s weapons should be seized.

Results: Passed and Moving to Senate for Consideration

What the Future Holds

While HB714 and HB1018 work their way through the PA Senate, where they may still be defeated, it’s important to understand Senate Democrats have their own plans for Pennsylvania gun laws. While these align well with both of the advanced bills and the Safe Storage bill still waiting for a vote, these senators have also announced their intention to work toward a comprehensive “assault weapon” ban targeting magazine-fed rifles and carbines as well as accessories that popular media has derided as having no legitimate civilian uses. 

What You Can Do to Save Your Second Amendment Rights

pistol and bullets placed on top of the US Constitution

Start by talking to your elected representatives about your opposition to Pennsylvania gun laws that take away your rights without addressing the growing crime problems in our major cities. Restricting law-abiding gun owners with increasingly severe PA gun control measures and penalties only hurts legal gun owners and businesses who believe in freedom, self-defense, and the right to be secure in your person and property. Join your local gun club, national advocacy groups like the NRA, and grassroots efforts to effect real change on the local and state levels.

Find Your Guns, Accessories, and Comrades-in-Arms at Your Local Gun Show

Held at a local convention center near you, Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show gives you a unique retail opportunity to buy, sell, and trade guns and accessories while meeting with like-minded members of your community in a safe, well-lit exhibition hall. It’s a great place to find something for the whole family while meeting passionate Second Amendment activists in your community and learning how to get involved. Get ready for your next show! Book your tickets to your local Eagle Shows gun show today.

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