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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 21, 2021 02:14 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Commonwealth v. Clegg Crimes Code Update
In the near future, I plan on introducing Senate Bill 865 from the 2019-2020 legislative session.  This legislation closes a significant loophole in current law.

Under current law, someone who has been convicted of a serious crime is statutorily barred from possessing a firearm under the Uniformed Firearms Act (UFA); unfortunately, under current caselaw, someone convicted of attempting, conspiring or soliciting another to commit those very same crimes is not subject to penalty under any applicable state law. (See Commonwealth v. Clegg, 27 A.3d 1266 (2011)).

As a result, and by way of example, someone who is convicted of murder, rape, or burglary may not possess a firearm, but someone convicted of attempted rape, conspiracy to commit murder, or solicitation to commit robbery is not subject to penalties under state law for possessing a firearm.  That makes no sense. It is worth noting that an attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses carries the same penalty as committing the crime itself, and the General Assembly in the past has recognized the significance of these crimes when it included penalties for selling firearms to individuals whom the seller knows will use the firearm to commit or attempt to commit a crime.

As shocking as this problem is, this legislative fix is straightforward and simple, and will not affect any rights of any law-abiding individual to possess a firearm. My bill proposes simply to add attempt, conspiracy to commit and solicitation to commit to the very same list of serious crimes that already prohibit a person from possessing a firearm under state law. By doing so, this bill will only subject to criminal penalty those who have a conviction for a serious crime and who subsequently choose to illegally carry a firearm. Closing this loophole is reasonable, straightforward, and necessary to hold those who illegally carry a firearm because of a prior conviction accountable. 

Please join me in this simple yet critical fix to our law.

Introduced as SB728