Constitutional questions remain after PA House passes “self-assembled firearms” parts ban

28 March 2024- Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Butler/Lawrence) today challenged the constitutionality of House Bill 777, which would essentially ban “self-assembled firearms” parts. House Democrats say this legislation would close loopholes by prohibiting the purchase, sale and production of untraceable gun parts.

The bill passed the House by a 104-99 vote. Following the vote, Bernstine issued this statement: 

“Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution says, ‘The rights of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves shall not be questioned.’ The constitutional right to possess a firearm is part of the constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and happiness.

“However, House Bill 777 requires government serialization and tracking of what the bill calls ‘firearm frames and receivers,’ as well as other firearm components.

“This is not government questioning citizens’ fundamental rights, but it is government interfering and placing burdens on those rights with a centralized bureaucratic agency.

“The legislation does not conform to the constitutional guarantees that we are assured in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Governor Josh Shapiro chimed in after the passing of the bill, again using the term “ghost guns” to described self-assembled firearms.

Shapiro said in a post on the platform X, “The Pennsylvania House just passed a bipartisan bill to ban the possession of ghost guns.   Ghost guns are dangerous, DIY weapons criminals can put together in their own home — and I’ve been fighting for legislation like this since I was Attorney General.   The State Senate must pass this bill to close the ghost gun loophole, help crack down on the violence in our communities, and make all Pennsylvanians safer.”