Reps aim to derail gun laws
Three county legislators back bill designed to thwart federal action on firearms Reps aim to derail gun laws BY AD CRABLE, Staff Writer
Three state representatives from Lancaster County have signed onto a bill that would try to block any new federal gun-control laws in Pennsylvania.
Co-sponsors of the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act include Bryan Cutler, Gordon Denlinger and Dave Hickernell. The chief sponsor is Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County.
They join 49 other Republicans and two Democrats in the state House in pushing the bill, referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The bill would render unenforceable any federal law, regulation or order that "attempts to register, restrict or ban the ownership or purchase of a firearm, magazine of a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition."
The bill would make it a felony for any federal employee to attempt to register, ban or restrict the purchase or ownership of guns or gun accessories that currently are legal in Pennsylvania.
The bill also instructs the Pennsylvania attorney general to defend any state resident prosecuted by the federal government.
For all its tough talk, Cutler, of Peach Bottom, conceded the bill is more of a pre-emptive protest against promised federal gun-control laws, than an enforceable blockade against any such restrictions.
"This is a political statement to tell those in D.C. that we take our Second Amendment Rights very seriously," Cutler said. "Our state constitution says our right to bear arms should not be questioned.
"I would certainly hope that cooler heads prevail in Washington and they realize that gun bans don't have an appreciable impact on crime."
Said Denlinger, "My view is we have plenty of laws on the books, some of which are unenforced.
"The desire in this bill is to reassert Pennsylvania state sovereignty in the face of continuing challenges to gun-owner rights and gun ownership."
The bill is in reaction to an attempt by the administration of President Barack Obama to enact stricter gun regulations in the aftermath of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
On Jan. 16, Obama unveiled a sweeping package of gun-control measures.
Among those that would need Congressional approval are banning military-style assault weapons, limiting magazines in rifles to 10 rounds, requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private sales, and strengthening penalties for gun trafficking.
All of those proposals have been attacked by the National Rifle Association and are expected to face a strong challenge in Congress.
Cutler is critical of most of the gun-control measures Obama is seeking because he believes they follow an ineffective approach of piling on more restrictions on law-abiding citizens, while existing laws meant to punish criminals with guns go unenforced.
He also suggested that guns used by private citizens for protection do deter crime.
He cited federal statistics showing that the number of gun transfers rose dramatically from 413,165 in 2006 to 606,924 in 2011.
During that time, violent crimes decreased by nearly 14 percent.
"It's not the law-abiding citizens' firearms that are the issue, it is the firearms that find themselves being used in crimes," he said.
Another Pennsylvania gun-rights bill is expected to be re-introduced in the House shortly, Cutler said.
The Firearms Freedom Act was introduced in 2012 with 69 co-sponsors, but died in committee. Cutler, Denlinger and Hickernell were co-sponsors, along with state Rep. Ryan Aument of Landisville.
That legislation, citing states' rights to control intrastate commerce, said Congress could not regulate the manufacture of guns, accessories and ammunition that are made and sold in Pennsylvania.
Even if passed, the law would have a narrow scope as only weapons, ammo and accessories manufactured and sold in Pennsylvania would be exempt from federal regulations, Cutler said.