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Pennsylvania House votes against taking up gun bill after Texas killings

Semi Automatic Rifles Q and A
Posted at 4:22 PM, May 25, 2022

HARRISBURG, Pa. — An effort by Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania to ban owning, selling or making high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms went nowhere Wednesday as state House Republicans again displayed their firm opposition to gun restriction proposals.

The state House of Representatives voted 111-87 against the effort by Democratic Rep. Danielle Friel Otten of Chester County to take up the bill after Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff argued it should have to go through a committee first.

The bill has spent more than a year in the Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, has bottled up most proposals to regulate or restrict firearms.

During floor debate, Otten said the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday created a “moral obligation to act, today, before this happens one more time.”

Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, listed communities across Pennsylvania that have recently been the site of gun violence.

The bill would not apply retroactively and result in people losing firearms they already lawfully bought, McClinton said.

Benninghoff, R-Centre, responded that because of the “magnitude” of the proposal it “needs to be vetted through the committee process” so that lawmakers can “get it right.”

Just one Republican, Rep. Todd Stephens of Montgomery County, and one Democrat, Rep. Chris Sainato of Lawrence County, crossed party lines in the vote to suspend the rules to allow the measure to be considered.

Both men are in swing districts and expected to face tough reelection campaigns this fall.

The GOP-majority Legislature has long rejected appeals by Democratic governors over the past two decades to tighten gun control laws, rejecting such ideas as expanding background checks or limiting the number of handgun purchases one person can make in a month.