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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 12, 2018 04:40 PM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Assault Weapons Ban

Under Pennsylvania law, both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are legal. There was a federal ban on these types of weapons nationwide which began in 1994. However, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 and the sunset provision was never renewed. For the 10 years that the injunction was in effect, it was illegal to manufacture the assault weapons for use by private citizens. The law also set a limit on high-capacity magazines – these could now carry no more than 10 bullets. However, any weapon or magazine that was manufactured before the law went into effect in 1994 was perfectly legal to own or resell.

I will soon be reintroducing legislation that would enact an assault weapons ban in Pennsylvania. My bill would mirror language that is very similar to what was enacted in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which is considered to be some of the toughest in the nation.

Specifically, my bill will broaden the scoop of what the state classifies as assault weapons including banning more than 150 gun models. The legislation will also ban the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Analyses by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence show that, with few exceptions, states with the strictest gun-control measures, including California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, have the lowest rates of gun deaths. At the same time, those with the most lax laws like Alabama, Alaska and Louisiana, have the highest.

In the case of the Lakeland, Florida shooting, the 19 year-old-suspect used an AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon during the massacre. An AR-15 assault rifle was also used by a gunman in the shooting spree that killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. This highly deadly military-inspired rifle has been the weapon of choice of mass shooters for the Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and Santa Monica and San Bernardino, California incidents.

I feel that my legislation is sensible ban on military-grade weapons that have no place in civilian life and are unnecessary for self-defense. These guns were made to kill people quickly and efficiently and it’s time that the General Assembly and residents say they have no place being in Pennsylvania.

Last session this legislation was Senate Bill 17 and the co sponsors included Farnese, Killion, Costa, Leach, Blake, Street, Hughes, Dinniman, and Haywood.

Introduced as SB292