PA House Judiciary Committee to vote on “assault weapons ban”, red flag laws tomorrow

16 January 2024- Pennsylvania’s House may not be in full session until Speaker Joanna McClinton recalls them, but committee work continues. The House Judiciary Committee is no different, with a series of gun control bills advancing to a vote tomorrow, January 17th.

A total of seven bills are set to advance to a full vote in the committee tomorrow, including potential bans on bump stocks, semi-auto “assault weapons”, red flag laws, and more.

Details on the most consequential can be found below.

HB 335

Called the “Ban on Multi-Burst Trigger Activators”, also called bump stocks, this legislation would likely be a redundant ban on the technology that rose to prominence following the 2017 Las Vegas hotel shooting.

Going into effect on March 26th, 2019, the ATF banned bump stocks as a “machinegun” under federal law. This is due to the fact the devices “allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.”

Representative Benjamin Sanchez, the author of the bill, cites a figure that potentially over 500,000 bump stocks are currently circulating throughout the US as of December, 2022. Sanchez also cites the Las Vegas shooting directly in his memorandum on the legislation.

HB 336

Also sponsored by Rep Ben Sanchez, HB 336 is summarized as the “Banning Future Sales of Assault Weapons”.

What does Representative Sanchez consider an “assault weapon”? Simply a “high capacity semi-automatic rifle in the style of or similar to an AR-15”.

HB 483

This bill, sponsored by Representative Jared Solomon, would create a Gun Violence Task Force funded by the state government.

Rep Solomon says that the Task Force “will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting firearm related crimes”, with the AG’s Office providing prosecutorial jurisdiction over criminal proceedings or actions.

This Task Force, in the current form, would also provide annual reports through the Attorney General’s Office on the standard operations of them, the number of convictions and arrests, and other relevant data. This, however, leads to interest groups like the Gun Owners of America to speculate that the Task Force would simply be a narrative driver for “the anti-gun narrative”.

HB 1157

The final major legislation sponsored by Representative Greg Scott would create “Mental Health Reporting Requirements”

Representative Scott’s proposed legislation would be a mental health notification window. The current timeframe for a notification from the Court of Common Pleas is seven days, but new legislation would change that to be between 72 and 96 hours.

GOA again says the bill will violate Second Amendment rights by giving a psychiatrist the ability to take away gun rights “without due process”.