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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: August 4, 2015 01:24 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Firearm Eligibility License to Purchase a Handgun
In the near future I plan to introduce a bill that would require individuals to obtain a firearm eligibility license prior to purchasing a handgun. This legislation is a direct response to the devastating gun violence that plagues our Commonwealth.

This bill would create a new firearm eligibility license in Title 18 (Crimes Code). The application for the license would be similar to that of a license to carry: on a prescribed form by the State Police, to the Sheriff or Chief of Police (in Philadelphia).

To qualify for a license, an individual would need to be 18 or older, live in the Commonwealth, complete a firearms safety course within the last three years, and not be prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Certain individuals, such as police, members of the armed forces and corrections officers, would be exempt from the training course requirements. The investigation prior to issuance of a license would include: a review of the applicant’s criminal history, juvenile delinquency records, and mental health records and investigation as to preclusion of firearm possession by law. This would require an applicant’s fingerprints to run through FBI and state databases. Any individual denied a license could petition a court for review under this legislation.

According to the John Hopkins Center on Gun Policy and Research, states with handgun purchaser licensing laws tend to have lower firearms-related death rates than states without such laws. When Missouri repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007, firearm-related homicide rates in the state swiftly increased while remaining stable in neighboring states and nationally.

My goal is simple: to ensure that our communities are safe places for our children to grow. This legislation is not intended to punish responsible gun owners. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that most American gun owners support going through law enforcement to receive a permit. It is also important to note that Maryland enacted a similar proposal that has been upheld in federal court.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation to protect Pennsylvanians.

Introduced as SB1029