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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2020 10:53 AM
From: Senator John P. Sabatina, Jr. and Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Increased Penalty for Firearm "Straw Purchasers"

In the near future, we will be reintroducing legislation to amend the Uniform Firearms Act to create the offense of criminal attempt to purchase a firearm and to increase penalties for false statements on any application to purchase or carry a firearm (Senate Bill 394 of 2019). This legislation was co-sponsored last session by Senators Santarsiero, Killion, Costa, Blake, L. Williams, Tartaglione, Haywood, Kearney, and A. Williams.
Under this legislation, a person who attempts to purchase a firearm knowing that he or she is prohibited from possessing, using, controlling, selling, transferring or manufacturing a firearm under the Act would commit a felony of the second degree. A second or subsequent offense would be classified as a felony of the second degree with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years.
Additionally, our legislation would increase penalties for making a false statement on an application to purchase a firearm or on an application for a carry permit. Currently, the penalty for making a false statement on a form submitted in connection with the purchase, delivery or transfer of a firearm commits a felony of the third degree. See 18 Pa.C.S. §6111(g)(4). Our proposal would make a second or subsequent offense under that section a felony of the second degree punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.

Our legislation would also make the penalty for a false statement on an application for a permit to carry a third degree felony for a first offense and a second degree felony for a second or subsequent offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. This offense is not currently referenced in 18 Pa.C.S. §6109 and is presumably classified as a third degree misdemeanor under 18 Pa.C.S. §6119.
Finally, the legislation would amend 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) to increase penalties if the false statement was related to an application for a firearm application or permit to carry. Again, the penalties would be increased to be consistent with the penalties under sections 6109 and 6111 of the Uniform Firearms Act discussed above.

Please join Sen. Hughes and I in supporting this effort that seeks to stop the practice of "Straw Purchasing" in Pennsylvania, which continues to propagate the dealing of illegal firearms in our communities.

Introduced as SB489