By some counts there were 323 mass shootings last year. Mass shootings are defined as a single incident where four or more people were shot at around the same time. While some measures show that there were more mass shootings in 2017, over 360, there was no significant increase in the number of gun control bills that were passed. Last year, however, saw the introduction of more than three times the number of gun restrictions across the country than were introduced in 2017. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting in February last year in particular galvanized gun control advocates and launched the anti-gun activist careers of several of the survivors of the shooting including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and was seemingly a factor in the introduction of stricter gun laws.
It is no surprise a blue state like New York, has been able to pass gun control measures with little resistance. We have previously discussed some of the measures implemented by New York to curb gun violence by taking guns from domestic abusers. What about in states that are decidedly pro-gun? Nearby Pennsylvania is a state with a rural population that strongly supports gun rights and supported Donald Trump for president by over 60%. Would you be able to pass similar legislation in Pennsylvania?
It turns out Pennsylvania did pass a fairly similar gun control bill to what was passed by New York, the first of its kind in the state for nearly a decade. Act No. 79 amended the state criminal code and the domestic relations code to force those convicted of domestic violence to surrender their firearms within 24 hours of a conviction. Not only does the law force domestic abusers to relinquish their guns but it also requires them to relinquish their firearm licenses as well.
People forced to surrender their guns will have to either hand them over to law enforcement or to a gun dealer. Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney, Lee Ciccarelli, says that those subject to the law face up to an additional 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine if they do not comply.
While these domestic violence based gun laws do not seem to be facing much opposition, broader gun laws in the state do not seem as welcome. The City Counsel of Pittsburgh for instance is looking to pass a law that would ban assault rifles like the AR-15, bump stocks, armor piercing bullets and large capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds within city limits. Gun rights groups and the District Attorney have all called the proposed law illegal since it may violate state law that prohibiting municipalities from limiting gun rights.
The war on guns may only heat up in 2019. We’ll be watching to see what happens across the country.