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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2022 10:22 AM
From: Senator Art Haywood and Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Permit to Purchase Legislation
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation that requires an individual to obtain a firearm eligibility license prior to purchasing a gun. This legislation is a direct response to the devastating gun violence that continues to plague our Commonwealth. 

The bill creates a new firearm eligibility license within the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, mirroring requirements for a license to carry – on a form prescribed by the State Police, the Sheriff, or the Chief of Police (in Philadelphia). 

To qualify for a license, applicants must: 

  • Be aged 18 or older; 
  • Reside in the Commonwealth; 
  • Have completed a firearms safety course within the previous three years; and 
  • Not be prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing a firearm. 

Under this legislation, certain individuals – such as police, members of the armed forces, and correctional officers – would be exempt from the safety course requirements. Investigation prior to the issuance of a license would include a review of the applicant’s criminal history, juvenile delinquency records, and mental health records, as well as any preclusion of firearm possession by law. This review would require an applicant’s fingerprints to be run through FBI and State databases. Any individual denied a license could petition a court for review of the denial. 
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 When Missouri repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007, firearm-related homicide rates in the state swiftly increased while remaining stable in neighboring states and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. 
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 has enacted a similar proposal that has been upheld in Federal court. 
Our goal is simple: to ensure that our communities are safe places for our children to grow. Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation to protect all Pennsylvanians from the effects of gun violence. 

Introduced as SB65