PRINTER'S NO. 702
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
624
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY MASTRIANO, DUSH, BARTOLOTTA, HUTCHINSON, PHILLIPS-
HILL, PITTMAN, SCAVELLO, STEFANO, J. WARD, K. WARD, YAW AND
GORDNER, MAY 3, 2021
REFERRED TO STATE GOVERNMENT, MAY 3, 2021
AN ACT
Providing that any Federal action which attempts to register,
restrict or ban a firearm or accessory, or to limit, inhibit
or regulate the ownership of magazines in this Commonwealth
shall be unenforceable in this Commonwealth; and imposing
penalties.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Right to Bear
Arms Protection Act.
Section 2. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Federal action." Any of the following issued or enacted by
the Federal government:
(1) An executive order.
(2) An agency order.
(3) A statute.
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(4) A law.
(5) A rule.
(6) A regulation.
(7) An arbitrary clarification or classification,
including any of the following:
(i) A classification of weapons based on attributes
which do not go to primary combustion function of the
firearm, such as natural unmodified rate of fire.
(ii) A classification designed to prohibit
possession for nonmechanically necessary attributes, such
as bayonet lugs, telescoping stocks, muzzle breaks or
other fixtures, pistol grips and pistol braces.
(iii) A clarification issued through executive or
legislative agencies designed to prohibit ownership or
possession of firearms based on attributes which are
nonmechanically necessary or in common use.
"Firearm accessory." An item used in conjunction with or
affixed to a firearm but which is not mechanically essential to
the basic functions of that firearm.
"Registry." A list generated by regulation, mandate, order
or statute which indicates the ownership, residence or storage
location of firearms purchased or otherwise legally owned or
stored within this Commonwealth.
"State actor." An official, agent or employee of the
Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The
term includes persons contracting with the Commonwealth.
Section 3. Findings and declarations.
The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) Article 1, section 21 of the Constitution of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in clear and unambiguous
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language states that the "right of the citizens to bear arms
in defense of themselves and the State shall not be
questioned." Article 1, section 25 of the Constitution of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also clearly and unambiguously
states that "to guard against the transgressions of high
powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in
this article is excepted out of the general powers of
Government and shall forever remain inviolate," and further
finds that both of these are rights of "The People," which
are clearly laid out prior to any mention of the framework of
Government having been defined in the Constitution of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
(2) The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental
right possessed by the individual necessary for defense of
self and preservation of liberty and shall not be infringed.
(3) It is the intent of the General Assembly to protect
State actors from being directed through Federal action to
violate their oath of defense and preservation of these
individual rights as enumerated in the Constitution of the
United States and Article 1, section 21 of the Constitution
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of its residents' right
to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State.
(4) Pursuant to and in furtherance of the principles of
Federalism enshrined in the Constitution of the United
States, the Federal Government may not commandeer this
State's actors to participate in the enforcement or
facilitation of any Federal action or regulatory program.
(5) This right to be free from the commandeering hand of
the Federal Government has been most notably recognized by
the United States Supreme Court in Printz v. United States,
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521 U.S. 898 (1997), when the Court held: "The Federal
Government may neither issue directives requiring the States
to address particular problems, nor command the States'
officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to
administer or enforce a federal regulatory program."
(6) The anti-commandeering principles recognized by the
Supreme Court in Printz v. United States are predicated upon
the advice of James Madison, who in Federalist #46 advised a
"refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union" in
response to either unconstitutional Federal measures or
constitutional but unpopular Federal measures.
Section 4. Prohibitions.
(a) State actors.--A Federal action relating to a firearm,
magazine of a firearm, accessory and ammunition, intended to
restrict possession, transfer or use of a firearm, magazine of a
firearm, accessory and ammunition shall be unenforceable by a
State actor in this Commonwealth.
(b) Enforceability.--A Federal action created or taking
effect after December 31, 2020, shall be unenforceable within
this Commonwealth if the Federal action attempts to register,
restrict or ban the ownership or purchase of a firearm, magazine
of a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition, or to reclassify
the firearm, accessory or magazine ex post facto where the
result is to prohibit or restrict continued ownership or common
use. An attempt by the Federal government to create within this
Commonwealth a registry regarding a firearm, component or
accessory, ammunition or magazine shall be prohibited.
(c) Duty, immunity and penalty.--
(1) An official, agent or employee of the Federal
Government, or a person who works for the Federal Government
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in any capacity located within this Commonwealth, or a State
actor owes an individual duty to each resident of this
Commonwealth not to violate the resident's Federal Second
Amendment rights or any similarly situated or applicable
rights under the Constitution of the United States or the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This duty is established for
the purpose of establishing a direct action for civil
liability if a State actor breaches this duty against a
Commonwealth resident.
(2) A State actor charged with or served with processes
relating to an act related to enforcing or aiding or abetting
an unconstitutional action under paragraph (1) forfeits any
civil protections of qualified immunity which their position
may bestow and consents jurisdiction necessary to adjudicate
action against them for civil violations their actions
contributed to in any degree. An action by a State actor
enforcing or aiding or abetting an unconstitutional action
under paragraph (1):
(i) Effectively and summarily waives all qualified
immunity which the State actor may have been entitled to
prior to taking the action.
(ii) Shall constitute prima facie evidence of a
civil rights and tort action of a nature which shall
afford the affected party a right to a private action
against the State actor, their employer dictating the
action and persons affiliated or aiding in the commission
of the action.
(iii) Shall constitute consent to litigation in the
forum most convenient to the plaintiff, subject to the
Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.
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(3) A State actor enforcing or aiding or abetting an
unconstitutional action under paragraph (1) shall be subject
to the following:
(i) Damages, such as compensatory damages, general
damages and punitive damages.
(ii) Beginning on the date of a judicial
adjudication of a violation of this section:
(A) Termination of employment and any
entitlements, except for pension or health care
benefits related to retirement, bestowed by the
employment.
(B) A bar from State employment in any capacity
for a period of at least 10 years.
(iii) A bar from contracting with any State
department, agency or office having contracts with the
Commonwealth or acting as subcontractors for the
Commonwealth.
(4) No person may contract with the Commonwealth or
submit bids for consideration to a Commonwealth bid request
who hires, employs or subcontracts with anyone found liable
under this act. A person who violated this paragraph shall be
liable as an accessory.
(d) Enforcement.--The Attorney General or a district
attorney shall prosecute violations of this section. An affected
party may bring a private action for a violation of this
section, notwithstanding if the Attorney General or a district
attorney fails to prosecute.
(e) Grant funds and forfeitures.--
(1) A political subdivision of this Commonwealth may not
receive funds from the Commonwealth if the political
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subdivision adopts a rule, order, ordinance or policy in
violation of this section. State grant funds for the
political subdivision shall be denied for the fiscal year
following the year in which a final judicial determination in
an action brought under this section is made that the
political subdivision has intentionally required actions
which violate this section.
(2) An agency, office, department or entity of the
Commonwealth or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth
may not accept Federal money or grants to support or advance
a restriction, such as a Federal legislation or directive,
that are in violation of this section. Federal money or
grants to support or advance a restriction that are deposited
with the Commonwealth shall be used for the improvement of
State Game Lands and shooting ranges owned and maintained by
the Commonwealth. To the extent that a political subdivision
has received Federal money or grants to support or advance a
restriction, the Federal money or grant must be remitted,
within 10 days of receipt, to the State Treasurer for deposit
in the General Fund and shall be used for the improvement of
State Game Lands and shooting ranges owned and maintained by
the Commonwealth. If the use of Federal money or grant is
restricted by Federal action, the Federal money or grant
must be returned to the appropriate Federal entity.
Section 5. Attorney General.
The Attorney General shall defend a resident of this
Commonwealth who is prosecuted by the Federal Government for a
violation of Federal law under section 4(a) that attempts to
register, restrict or ban the ownership or purchase of a
firearm, magazine of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition
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that is retained in this Commonwealth.
Section 6. Severability.
The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of
this act is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other
provisions or applications of this act which can be given effect
without the invalid provision or application.
Section 7. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 30 days.
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