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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 26, 2017 11:39 AM
From: Representative Stephen Barrar
To: All House members
Subject: Prosecution of Felons Attempting to Purchase Firearms

In the near future, I will introduce legislation to amend the Uniform Firearms Act of 1995 to further provide for law enforcement’s ability to prosecute felons who attempt to purchase firearms through licensed firearms dealers in the Commonwealth.

I have heard from a number of firearms dealers in my legislative district who have concerns about this issue. Although they are not provided with specifics as to why a firearm purchaser is denied, my licensed dealers see countless denials over the course of the year. Yet, there is no follow-up and seem to have been no (or only a scant few) prosecutions for persons who provide false information on their paperwork.

The law is plain: Making materially false statements on the state and federal forms required or providing false identification for the purchase of a firearm is a felony of the third degree. (See 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(4)). This law is intended to deter individuals from lying when attempting to purchase firearms; and, to keep felons from getting access to guns. But, I have to ask myself, “what is the point of the law if it is not used?”

My legislation would require the Pennsylvania State Police to provide the Office of Attorney General data on denials when convicted felons attempt to purchase firearms. The Attorney General would then have the duty to investigate the incident and make a determination of whether there is enough evidence to prosecute the applicant for a violation. If sufficient evidence exists, the Attorney General would then be required to prosecute the individual for a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(4).

Also, my legislation would require the Attorney General to provide annual reports to the General Assembly on her efforts in this regard.

Given the statewide implications of violent gun crime, I believe that the Office of Attorney General is the most appropriate agency to handle such investigations and prosecutions.

I thank you for your attention to this memorandum and urge you to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1423