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The second amendment of the United States Constitution declares that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” and Article I, Section 21 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution states that “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”

So how does a law mandating that gun owners report lost or stolen guns infringe or question the right of people to keep or bear arms? If anything, such a law would actually help law-abiding citizens to hold on to their firearms since it would assist in the return of lost or stolen guns to their rightful owners.

Such a law would not only be a benefit to individual gun owners and true believers in the second amendment, it would also remove some lethal weapons from many of the streets of our commonwealth.

The 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI) found that the vast majority of the estimated 287,400 prisoners who had committed a crime involving a firearm, had attained the weapon illegally. Forty-three percent had purchased their firearm through an underground market. Six percent had stolen it, seven percent found it at the scene of the crime, and 25% had obtained the firearm from a relative or a friend. Only seven percent had acquired their weapon through strictly legal channels.

Bills to address lost and stolen gun bills have a history of failure going back decades. Even Ed Rendell’s popularity as a governor was insufficient to push such legislation through the State legislature. Philadelphia actually has had such a law on the books for over a decade, but because of pressure from the gun lobby, it has only recently been enforced through the efforts of District Attorney Larry Krasner.

The problem is that illegal gun possession throughout Pennsylvania is a team sport, that generally involves a straw (or legal) purchaser of the weapon, a system of one or more intermediaries to acquire the straw purchaser’s firearm, who then transfer – for a price – the gun to the street criminal. Counties have no ability to contain these operations. In February, Montgomery County law enforcement officials had announced the existence of a gun-trafficking ring that was responsible for firearms being used in violent crimes in Philadelphia.

That is why it is so important to pass statewide legislation. Representatives Ben Sanchez and Malcolm Kenyatta have introduced HB 980, which would require gun owners missing firearms to report the problem within 72 hours of their disappearance.

The bill is currently listed as pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Here are the representatives who currently sit on that committee.


Please contact your legislator – particularly if s/he sits on the Judiciary Committee (but even if s/he doesn’t) – to promote this legislation for review and approval.

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