On February 17, 2015 State Representative Cruz introduced draconian legislation that could only be described out of a play book from the Weimar Republic prior to the passage of the Gesetz über Schußwaffen und Munition (Law on Firearms and Ammunition) in 1928 which required citizens to get a license from police to acquire firearms. See Nazi Firearms Laws and the Disarming of the German Jews, Pg. 487-488.
House Bill 503, the Firearm Registration Act, requires that:
All firearms in this Commonwealth shall be registered in accordance with this section. It shall be the duty of a person owning or possessing any firearm to cause the firearm to be registered. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver or accept any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, deliver or accept any firearm which is unregisterable under this act.
Representative Cruz was kind enough to leave exemptions for firearms owned by federal, state or local governments, duty related firearms to out of state police and corrections officers, firearms owned by manufacturers, transporters or retailers (provided they have the correct licensing), private security personnel (but their employer must own and maintain, as well as register the firearm) and individuals participating in recreational firearm activity in the Commonwealth or passing through provided that the firearm is either broken down or unloaded and cased.
The proposed legislation does not allow for individuals to obtain a registration certificate if they were convicted of a crime of violence, were convicted in the last five years of any violation of law relating to use, possession or sale of narcotics or are otherwise ineligible to possess a firearm under State or Federal law.
What is problematic with this proposed restriction, in addition to it being ill conceived, is that a crime of violence is not defined in this bill OR under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102. Ostensibly, this could mean that a summary conviction for a disorderly conduct involving a kick, punch, or shove could count and bar a person from being able to register their firearm.
Simply put, if this bill was to pass and you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Representative Cruz would want you to get in line to register them with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). But the bill doesn’t simply require that individuals register their firearms. It asks for a fairly large amount of information, some of which the federal government doesn’t even require when purchasing a gun.
The bill proposes that every person who is required to register under the act submit an application to the (PSP) which would include:
(1) The name, home and business address, telephone number, date of birth and Social Security number of the applicant.
(2) The age, sex and citizenship of the applicant.
(3) The name of the manufacturer, the caliber or gauge, model, type and serial number of each firearm to be registered.
(4) Two photographs taken within 30 days immediately prior to the date of filing the application equivalent to passport size showing the full face, head and shoulders of the applicant in a clear and distinguishing manner.
(5) Additional information as the Pennsylvania State Police may deem necessary to process the application.
But it gets worse. In addition to part 5 being vague, applicants would be required to submit fingerprints as part of the application process and PSP would also conduct a background check at the time of application. Within 30 days PSP would notify an individual if they were approved or denied.
Connecticut Gun Owners stand in line to register their guns in 2013
If an individual were approved, the PSP would issue a certificate which would contain their name, residence, date of birth, photograph and other information PSP deemed necessary. HB 503 states that the certificate shall be carried with the firearm and shall be exhibited to police upon demand for inspection. The proposed certificates would need to be renewed yearly, at a cost of $10 per application.
If the applicant is denied and exhausts the administrative remedies the Bill directs that the applicant must surrender the firearm for which the application was denied to PSP. And we all know that PSP has never made a mistake as to an individual’s ability to own and possess a firearm. Not to mention, the bill doesn’t allow the individual to transfer their property to another because under §3(a):
No person within this Commonwealth may…transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver…any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm.
The Bill also requires that individuals who hold a registration certificate shall within 48 hours: Notify PSP regarding any theft, loss or destruction of the firearm, change of information on the certificate, the sale, transfer or other disposition of the firearm and return the certificate to PSP after a firearm is lost, stolen, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.
Lastly, the Bill requires that a registrant
Keep any firearm in the registrant’s possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock, gun safe or similar device unless the firearm is in the registrant’s immediate possession and control while at the registrant’s place of residence or business or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within this Commonwealth.
Disassembled is not defined by this proposed bill or § 6102 either! Are we to understand disassembled as merely field stripped or is it further than that?
If this bill doesn’t have you concerned, it should. Representative Cruz is proposing that every firearm you possess as an individual be registered with the state. History has shown that firearms registries ultimately lead to bad things. In addition to knowing your firearm collection, the bill would allow the PSP to know WHERE the firearms are kept!
This proposed draconian law would require individuals to prove ownership to the police by having them produce a certificate of registration upon demand! While the likelihood is that this bill will not make it out of committee, it is important to keep an eye on such legislation. Our current governor would be delighted to sign such an oppressing bill. And this isn’t the first time Representative Cruz has introduced this bill!
How can you prevent it from seeing the light of day?
Contact the members on the Judiciary Committee and tell them not to let HB 503 out of committee.
After the initial writing of this blog, it has come to my attention via the American Gun Owners Alliance that the Senate has a similar bill (SB 503) which has been referred to their Judiciary Committee as well.
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