Bump stocks | Legality and future in Pennsylvania

Bump stocks | Legality and future in Pennsylvania

In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, we looked closer into Pennsylvania’s gun laws, finding Pennsylvania is a much more relaxed state when it comes to firearms than most.

In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal for any government or police agency to keep a registry of firearms, with the exception of automatic, or semi-automatic weapons, which must be registered federally through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

However, bump stocks are perfectly legal to purchase in PA and all across the country and may be commonly found online for only a couple hundred dollars.

“Thousands of rounds of ammunition; nobody blinked an eye,” says Shira Goodman, executive director of Cease Fire PA. “Ten dozens rifles, no body blinks an eye.”

Full automatic weapons made after 1986 are illegal to possess in the country as a U.S. civilian, but Goodman says it’s the lack of a state registry of weapons that are out there that’s concerning.

“It’s like our other constitutional rights and subject to reasonable regulation,” says Goodman. “We don’t have lists of what people have and we don’t know how many bump fire stocks are out there and how they’re using them and why, but we know it’s not for hunting or self-defense.”

Bump stocks, like those used by Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, essentially transform firearms into automatic weapons, which are not under protection of the Second Amendment, but instead fall under the National Firearms Act, enacted in 1934.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution is even more protective for firearms rights,” says Josh Bodene, a second amendment attorney at Clymer Conrad, PC. “More so then the second amendment.”

Clymer says there’s currently no limit, or regulation, as to how many firearms an individual may own in PA, or even nationally.

The state constitution stating: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned”, which leads Bodene to believe stricter gun laws are not on the horizon.

“Increasing the ability for law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves, who want to protect others, increasing their ability to do that is really what the best answer is,” says Bodene.

On the other hand, Goodman says before new legislation regarding firearms leniencies or restrictions may be introduced, conversations must commence surrounding the safety and necessity of some particular weapons.

“I’m ashamed,” says Goodman. “I’m ashamed as an American that this is where we live. I don’t want to have metal detectors at my church and at schools and at movies.”

The state’s background check system, PIC (Pennsylvania Instant Check) was set up in the late 90’s, enabling a seller to call Pennsylvania State Police on the spot at the attempt of a firearm purchase. Then, police use FBI information to conclude whether or not an individual has been convicted of any felonies, been involuntarily committed to a mental institution and other risks.

According to state police, 60 percent of people run through PICS are approved to buy a firearm within minutes.

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