Common- Sense Gun Laws Close ‘Florida Loophole,’ Protect the Public, Hold Criminals Accountable

Harrisburg – February 18, 2011—-Senator Larry Farnese today introduced a four-part gun package to close the ‘Florida Loophole’ and further strengthen the laws and penalties to hold criminals accountable for gun crimes.
“This four-point package emphasizes public safety by strengthening the laws and the penalties for straw purchasers and other criminals,” said Senator Farnese. “In no way do these proposals infringe upon the rights of lawful gun owners. These are common-sense, reasonable laws that rightly penalize criminals and protect the public.”

1. Closing the ‘Florida Loophole’

Title 18 requires that a person be licensed by the Commonwealth to carry a firearm. However, Section 6106(b)(15) of the title allows an exception to “any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the law of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state.”

This ‘loophole’ allows Pennsylvania residents who have been denied a license to carry by Pennsylvania an opportunity to obtain such a license in another state and legally carry a firearm in the Commonwealth.

Legislation to close this loophole is necessary to allow the authorities in Pennsylvania to retain control over permitting and ensure that our residents have met the Commonwealth’s standards rather than another state’s whose standards may not be as stringent as our own.

2. Mandatory One-Year Minimum

Senate Bill 619 would amend Title 18 and require an individual to serve a mandatory minimum one-year sentence for unlawfully carrying firearms without a license on their person or in a vehicle.

The amendment would not affect those citizens who maintain firearms in their home or place of business.

3. Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Criminals

Senate Bill 620 would correct disparate treatment of juvenile adjudications. Current law prohibits adults convicted of serious offenses or drug felonies from possessing or purchasing firearms.

Adults with juvenile adjudications for the same offenses are treated much differently.

Unfortunately, many adults commit such offenses before the age of 18 and are arrested and adjudicated for doing so.

Adults with juvenile adjudications for drug offenses, no matter the amount of such offenses, are not prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
Adjudicated drug dealing juveniles who turn 21 thus become prime recruits to straw purchase and supply drug organizations with firearms.

This proposal would correct the disparate treatment of adult convictions and juvenile adjudications for the same offenses, while maintaining the lapsing provision for less serious offenses.

4. Defendants Barred from Purchasing or Possessing Firearms

Senate Bill 621 would temporarily bar those charged with violent felonies from purchasing or possessing firearms.

Current law requires that a person be convicted of a disabling offense before they can be prevented from buying or having a gun.

Witness intimidation and retaliation is a growing problem, and many victims of violent crime are already reluctant to come to court.

This measure would temporarily bar those awaiting trial for serious violent offenses from purchasing or possessing firearms during the pendency of the proceedings. If they are acquitted, the bar would automatically be lifted.

“This four-point package emphasizes public safety by strengthening the laws and the penalties for straw purchasers and other criminals,” said Senator Farnese. “In no way do these proposals impinge upon the rights of lawful gun owners. These are common-sense, reasonable laws that rightly penalize criminals and protect the public.”

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