Given at the General Members Meeting, 02/13/2013 

Federal

California Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced her new ban, S.150. It uses a single feature test to determine what it and isn’t an “assault weapon”, and would effectively ban most modern semi-automatic long guns if they had a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, or “anything that would function as a grip.” It also poorly defines “barrel shroud” as any part, which the shooter can grip with the non-shooting hand, which either partially for fully encircles the barrel. Think about how a wood stock works on a rifle or shotgun.

The good news is that gun owners are having a fair amount of success influencing lawmakers. The likelihood of new bans on semi-automatic firearms and magazine size limitations passing Congress are getting slimmer as gun owners keep the pressure on. We are not out of the woods on new bans yet, by a long shot, but our prospects look better than they did last month.

The real threat that’s shaping up in Congress is a ban on private transferring of firearms. When one buys a firearm from a dealer, a 4473 form and background check is required, but that requirement has never been applied to occasional transfers between private individuals who live in the same state. In Pennsylvania, we’ve been living under such a ban for handguns, but this would add new federal requirements for both handguns and long guns, essentially creating de-facto national registration for all firearms. All transfers would be forced to go through a dealer, adding about 30-50 dollars to the cost of selling a gun to someone else, and creating difficulty for giving firearms as gifts. Anti-gun politicians have even been fighting against exceptions for transfers between immediate family, and between people who have already passed background checks to get concealed carry permits. It’s quite clear that creating a registration scheme is the primary goal of this legislation.

Banning private transfers of long guns is a “middle ground” position being taken by many Congressmen, including local Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Meehan. Please contact Mike Fitzpatrick’s office, even if you have already spoken to him, and make it clear you expect him to oppose all gun controls, including expanding background checks to private transfers. If anything gets through, it is going to be used as a base by which to expand on in further legislation. It is very important that every proposal from the gun control groups be defeated.

New Jersey

New Jersey is currently under grave threat, with approximately 43 anti-gun bills introduced. You can find a complete list on the club’s web site under “Latest News.” Just keep scrolling down until you find it. There was hearing today in Trenton for approximately 20 of these bills, many of them quite draconian, including a reduction of magazine sizes from 15 to 5 rounds, requiring in-home inspections for firearms owners, requiring a mental health clearance from a doctor, background checks for ammunition purchases, a ban on 50 caliber or greater firearms, and a ban on mail order ammunition.

Gun owners turned out in huge numbers today to pack the hearing room. An emergency permit had to be issued so that people could remain outside the Capitol and continue to protest. Keep talking to lawmakers, and telling them you oppose all these measures.

Pennsylvania

Attorney General Kathleen Kane kept her campaign promise to the gun control groups and Pennsylvania, and modified our current reciprocity agreement with the State of Florida. Non-resident Florida Concealed Weapons Licenses will no longer be recognized in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania residents can still carry in Florida on a Pennsylvania licenses, but a New Jersey resident with a Florida license may no longer carry in Pennsylvania. It is unclear at this time whether Attorney General Kane has plans to modify our reciprocity agreements with any other states. A lawsuit has been filed to challenge Kane’s legal authority to modify or revoke agreements once entered into.

On the legislative front, the Republican leadership in the House, and Governor Corbett, have remained, so far, firm in their insistence that gun control will not be considered, but don’t count on this to last if lawmakers do not hear from gun owners.