Pennsylvania: “Universal” Background Check Bill Introduced in the General Assembly
Recently, House Bill 1400, legislation which would expand background checks to include all private sales and transfers, was introduced in the Keystone state. Sponsored by state Representative James Santora (R-163), HB 1400 would require an individual to seek a licensed firearm dealer to conduct a criminal background check prior to purchasing or transferring a firearm to another individual, including purchases at gun shows. Additionally, an individual would have to obtain 72-hour background check approval if the individual wanted to make more than one purchase without having to pay for multiple background checks.
It is currently illegal to knowingly sell a firearm to an individual who is a prohibited possessor. Likewise, it is a felony for a prohibited person to buy, own or possess a firearm. However, criminals by their very nature circumvent the laws. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 77% of inmates surveyed1 acquired their guns through theft, the black market, from drug dealers, straw purchase or family and friends. HB 1400 is merely legislation in search of a problem, as criminals will not subject themselves to gun control schemes or background checks. This is an ineffective and unenforceable piece of legislation that will only impact law-abiding citizens rather than addressing the true problems associated with the criminal misuse of firearms: lack of enforcement of current law.
By criminalizing otherwise lawful transfers, this bill could unknowingly turn a law-abiding person into a criminal. For example, simply loaning a firearm to a friend could turn a law-abiding gun owner into a criminal overnight.