(WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Capitol has long been called a place where gun control bills go to die, but not anymore.
The new Democratic majority in the State House passed what they call “commonsense gun reforms.” The majority calls the reforms historic, but critics call them a waste of time.
“My mom, Ruthann, was stolen from my family by gun violence,” said a rally participant at the Capitol.
Many rallies have been held, begging for tougher gun laws.
“I urge my colleagues today, if you are listening, the time to act is now,” said Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Delaware County).
After years of demands, the group “Moms Demand Action” finally got action in the House.
Four bills were the topic of conversation.
The various bills require lost and stolen firearms to be reported, introduce new regulations regarding the safe storage of guns, close the “gun show loophole,” and propose risk protection or “red flag laws.”
“We can no longer tolerate as a state that we do nothing on this issue,” said Rep. Arvind Venkat (D-Allegheny County).
Supporters call the bills historic, but detractors say otherwise.
“I call this a train wreck,” said Minority Chair of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Rob Kauffman (R).
Kauffman is the former judiciary chair who would never let gun bills move in committee. Now that he is in the minority. He can’t stop them, but he can still criticize them.
“The only people this is going to impact are the law-abiding gun owners,” said Kauffman.
Gary Perecko, a gun owner, says the threat is not passing these bills, which he calls a commonsense approach to a public health crisis.
“I have guns,” said Perecko. “Across this country, people are getting off the sidelines and getting involved. And we’re a democracy. So let the majority speak and rule.”
With one chamber down, the bills will likely get shot down as they move into the Republican-controlled Senate.
“I predict they will come to a screeching halt when they get to the Pennsylvania Senate. So this is a lot more about headlines. This is a lot more about campaign mailers than it is actually governing,” said Kauffman.
Survivors say they never wanted to make headlines or lose loved ones, and they believe doing something beats doing nothing. Now, their sights are set on the Pennsylvania Senate.
“I think it is very, very clear that the volunteers are making a difference. Volunteers refuse to look away, to give up and take no for an answer,” said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County).
Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong/Indiana/Jefferson/Westmoreland) responded to the bills saying “advancing measures to increase safety and security is of chief importance to the Senate Republican Caucus. We remain steadfast in our ongoing support of law enforcement, leadership of school safety initiatives, and examination of ways to provide greater mental and behavioral health support to help protect our communities. Pennsylvania currently has robust laws in place pertaining to guns, which must be enforced in every corner of our commonwealth.”
It’s important to note that the Pennsylvania Constitution is even more liberal on gun rights than the United States Constitution, saying “they shall not be questioned.”
While all four bills were expected to run and pass today, that did not happen. Two of them, the red flag law and universal background checks did pass. But the requirement to report lost and stolen firearms was defeated by one vote and the safe storage bill didn’t run.