The Incline in Harrisburg

Everything Harrisburg is trying to fix Pennsylvania’s gun laws

We’ll update this tracker on the General Assembly’s gun reform efforts throughout the year.

A man shoots a firearm.

A man shoots a firearm.

Taylor Stakes / Flickr
Sarah Anne Hughes

Updated Jan. 4, 3:30 p.m.

Before the end of the 2017-18 session, legislators in Harrisburg did something kind of amazing: They passed gun control legislation.

It’s unclear if the General Assembly will build on that reform in the new session, especially with a declining number of moderates in both chambers. But members are already floating proposals that would tighten regulations around firearms.

Below are the ideas that representatives and senators have put forth since Dec. 1. This list will be updated throughout the session as more legislation is proposed.

Universal background checks


Introducer: Rep. Christopher Quinn (R-Delaware County)

Summary: All gun sales regardless of barrel length would have to take place “in front of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or county sheriff.” Currently, a person can purchase long guns including an AR-15 privately from someone who is not a federally licensed dealer. Transfers between family members would still be exempted.

Previous version: House Bill 1400 was co-sponsored by 73 Democrats and Republicans. It failed to move out of the Judiciary Committee with the support of three Republicans and opposition of two Democrats.


Introducer: Rep. Perry Warren (D-Bucks County)

Summary: The bill would no longer exempt long guns including an AR-15 from background checks. Transfers between family members would still be exempted.


Introducers: Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) and Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks County) and Sen. Thomas Killion (R-Chester/Delaware County)

Summary: Long guns including AR-15s would no longer be exempt from background checks when sold privately. Transfers between family members would still be exempted.

Previous version: Senate Bill 209 was co-sponsored by 12 members, including Republicans Killion and former Sen. Tom McGarrigle. It did not receive a committee vote.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders


Introducer: Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Pittsburgh)

Summary: Allows family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person deemed an “extreme risk.”

Previous version: Senate Bill 18, which was co-sponsored by eight Democrats and one Republican.


Introducer: Sen. Thomas Killion (R-Chester/Delaware County)

Summary: Allows family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person deemed an “extreme risk.”

Registering firearms


House: Rep. Tony Williams (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: Pennsylvania law currently prohibits keeping a registry of firearm owners. The bill would require registration for all firearms in a list available to law enforcement.

Federal watchlist ban


Introducer: Rep. Perry Warren (D-Bucks County)

Summary: Anyone on a “federal terrorist watch list” would be unable to buy or possess a firearm in Pennsylvania.


Introducer: Sen. John Sabatina Jr. (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: Anyone on a terrorist watchlist maintained by the federal government would be unable to buy a firearm in Pennsylvania.

Previous version: Senate Bill 1100 was co-sponsored by four Democrats. It did not receive a committee vote.

Reporting lost and stolen firearms


Introducer: Rep. Benjamin V. Sanchez (D-Montgomery County)

Summary: Requires a person to report a lost or stolen firearm to law enforcement within 72 hours, or face being charged with a summary offense.

Previous version: House Bill 832 was co-sponsored by 30 representatives including two Republicans.  It did not receive a committee vote.

Destroying confiscated firearms


Introducer: Rep. Mary Isaacson (D- Philadelphia)

Summary: Law enforcement would be required to destroy confiscated firearms after 120 days or at the close of an investigation

Outpatient mental health treatment


Introducer: Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: People ordered to undergo outpatient mental health treatment would be prohibited from having firearms “until the court finds that the individual is no longer a danger to himself or herself or to others.” Under current law, a person who has been involuntary committed is banned from firearm ownership for life in most circumstances.

Allowing local laws


Introducer: Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Pittsburgh)

Summary: Two bills would allow local governments to pass gun measures currently preempted at the state level.

Banning assault weapons


Introducer: Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Pittsburgh)

Summary: The bill would ban more than 150 gun models classified as assault weapons and the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Previous version: Senate Bill 17, which was co-sponsored by nine Democrats and one Republican. It did not get a committee vote.

Eligibility license


Introducer: Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: The bill would require most Pennsylvanians to obtain a license to own firearms. “To qualify for a license, the requirements are that an applicant: would need to be 18 or older, live in the Commonwealth, complete a firearms safety course within the last three years, and not be prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing a firearm.”

Safe storage of firearms


Introducer: Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks County)

Summary: The bill would require the “safe storage” of firearms “when a person who legally cannot possess a firearm lives in the owner’s residence.” Details of what “safe storage” would mean are not included in a co-sponsorship memo.

Excluding gun safes, locks from sales tax


Introducer: Rep. Fred Keller (R-Snyder and Union County)

Summary: The bill would exempt gun safes and gun locks from sales tax “to promote firearm safety and the proper storage of firearms.”

Previous version: House Bill 283, which had bipartisan support but was not brought up for a vote on the House floor.

Banning guns in the capitol


Introducer: Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: The bill proposes to ban firearms in the capitol complex unless carried by “law enforcement and security personnel.” Visitors are already not allowed to bring weapons into the capitol, but legislators are.

Gun buyback


Introducer: Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Philadelphia)

Summary: The proposal would create a statewide gun buyback program administered by the Office of Attorney General with law enforcement.

Want some more? Explore other The Incline in Harrisburg stories.

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