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.
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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8 thoughts on “Your Papers, Please.”
There is a limit to what the people will stand. If past ,the loyal citizens who have taken oaths, would have no choice but to rebel against this tyranical legislature. This is the wrong thing to do with the enemies that wish to destroy us are so active. Such enemies of the people who would attempt to destroy our freedoms and make us weak will only serve the enemies who wish to take our children, sell us off as slaves , take our heads, or put us on a cross. Cruz must go, recall him now!
Setting aside for the moment that this seems to violate both the 2nd Amendment and the 5th Amendment, isn’t this also an ex post facto law which is expressly prohibited by the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Section IX?
There is so much wrong with this bill it’s hard to know where to start.
1) A $10-per-gun-per-year “tax” to register the gun is likely to fail any scrutiny by the courts. For some people that could be an annual tax in the hundreds of dollars – a clear disincentive to exercise your rights.
2) How many days will it take PSP to issue a certificate when I buy a gun? It appears that buying a gun is complex under these rules too. Pay the dealer and fill out form 4473, get approved by NICS. Then go to a PSP location to be fingerprinted and provide photos (no doubt for a $15-$20 fingerprint fee). Then wait how long?
3) So I have my certificate for my firearm, but a PSP trooper says it doesn’t show up on their computers (gee, computers are never wrong, eh?). Where does the law safeguard the citizen? Which source really wins?
4) I have my certificates for both my guns. (A) Must I present them on demand even if the contact with the officer doesn’t involve any of my guns or crimes involving guns? Can he just ask on a “fishing expedition?” (B) If there is a question about the gun in my possession and I show him its certificate, can he take action because I didn’t show him the certificate for the other gun he hasn’t yet seen/found/asked about?
5) Where is “immediate possession” defined? If I have to break it down or lock it what does it mean? Am I okay if I put my gun in my desk drawer while working at my desk? What if I’m called upstairs to help my daughter with her math? Or called away to the front door (oh, look dear it’s the police).
6) If I want to accept my father’s revolver from my brother who is out of state, can I register it first? Can my brother legally deliver it to me then?
7) Likewise if I inherited my father’s gun and have it registered for ‘x’ years, but suddenly PSP denies me (regardless of reason), can I legally drive out of state and give/transfer it to my brother for safekeeping?
(One’s mind boggles at the possibility of getting denied and whilst appealing, driving it to the brother’s house and being stopped by PSP. What creative charges might be encountered? With police license reader cameras it’s possible for them to flag your plate for stops near state borders too.)
It would be interesting to know the official position of the Pennsylvania State Police on this issue. A few decades ago, I would have siad they’d be against it. Today, I’m not so sure!
I do not live in PA, but this absolutely outrages me. Please do not let the day close without a fight. It is your RIGHT, not a privilege to own a firearm. This is where we ALL need to stand and fight. This is where pro-2nd amendment police and military need to stand with the citizens, and demonstrate against this un-American legislation. If need be this is where we start a new revolution. Never surrender like the people of Connecticut. They have no idea how bad they screwed themselves by registering. That data will live on into infamy. It’s not a Democrat issue, because their were plenty Republican legislatures in Connecticut that barely put up a fight. If you’re pro-2nd amendment as a politician, I expect them ALL to lead marches, and if need be lead the charge. We no longer elect patriots. We elect career politicians on the doll of special interests. It is up to every American to protect each other and ALL of our rights. Period!
It is my considered opinion that “Representative” Cruz can go fuck himself!
Tyrants like this would have been hung by our forefathers.
It is my considered opinion that “Representative” Cruz can go fuck himself!
Tyrants like that would have been hanged or shot by our forefathers.
Rep. Cruz fails to understand that first and foremost, every lawfully acquired handgun in Pennsylvania is already “registered”, and has been since 1932. Pictures? Fingerprints? I spent 20 years in the Air Force, and 14 of those in the PA Air National Guard. Cruz, you knucklehead, you already have my blood type, photo, fingerprints, last security clearance held, records of drug test, records of my test for AIDS, and likely more information than you are ever going to need about me. You and I, Cruz, took an oath to defend both the Federal and Commonwealth Constitution. Don’t make me come out there and put you over my knee and deliver a good spanking. You are a petulant child who finds himself in a position of “power”. Remember what the Roman slave told his master as he triumphantly returned to Rome with loot, prisoners, and exotic animals for his Caesar—“All Glory is fleeting.” In plain speak, Cruz, don’t be surprised when your draconian proposals land you in a snowbank, penniless, without a job, and most certainly without a seat in Harrisburg.