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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2020 10:51 AM
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 SB 292 of last session 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 assault weapons were used in the seven deadliest mass shootings of the last decade.  This weapon of choice of mass shooters is designed for combat, allowing the individual to kill more people more quickly. This was the case here at home when 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 in 2018.   


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. I would also point out that while the federal assault weapons ban was in effect, mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur.  


SB 292 of last session co-sponsors included Senators Santarsiero, Muth, Schwank, Hughes, Costa, Haywood, Collett, Blake, Tartaglione and Street.