Action Alert: Gun Violence Prevention

Please contact your PA State Senator about one good bill, plus one bad proposal that are circulating:

SB 209 – is the bill to close the loophole concerning background checks for long gun private sales. Currently, if a pistol is sold privately, the sale has to go through a background check at a Federally licensed gun store. Long guns can be sold privately without a background check. This bill would simply close that loophole.

  • Long guns have been on the rise for use in committing crimes.
  • The Center for American Progress reported in an article written in 2016 that 43% of the police shootings in PA have been with long guns.
  • Rockne Newell, a mentally imbalanced man used his arsenal of long guns to kill three and wound three at a local governmental meeting in Saylorsville in 2015.
  • This bill has bipartisan support. Senator Killion (R) and Senator Tom McGarrigle (R) are Cosponsors along with 7 Democrats.
  • According to the same 2016 Center for American Progress report, 88% of Pennsylvanians support universal background checks for gun sales.

SB 224 – A bill to eliminate PA’s background check system, PICS (Pennsylvania Instant Check System). The bill claims that it is redundant to have PICS when NICS (the National Background Check System) can serve the same function, and save PA lots of money. We disagree.

  • PICS contains many more records concerning people in PA who should not be able to buy a gun than NICS.
  • PICS does not have the ‘Charleston Loophole.’ The NICS operates under the rule that if a background check is not completed in 3 days, the person who applies gets the gun. In PA, if the background check is not completed, there is no getting the gun until the background check is finished. Dylan Roof of South Carolina had an incomplete background check and obtained his gun before his criminal record was discovered.  He used his gun to kill 9 parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in South Carolina two summers ago.
  • PA State police run our PICS, and keep track of those trying to buy a gun who shouldn’t, and follow through with prosecuting those who try.
  • The true cost of gun violence is staggering. Compared with the savings to PA taxpayers, the money spent on crime investigation, forensics, ambulance, hospital, rehab, loss of job income dwarfs any potential savings – as we contend more gun violence will happen without PICS in place. Mother Jones Magazine did a scientific study of the true cost of gun violence – $224 billion per year. If we take just PA’s percentage of the 50 states, our cost is $4.48 billion per year… dwarfing any savings by dropping PICS.

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