In the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, two Philadelphia state senators are pushing a bill to make it illegal for you to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer any handgun until you get a government-issued license.
Senate Bill 1029, which was introduced by Democratic Pennsylvania state senators Art Haywood and Vincent Hughes, would establish a so-called “Firearm Eligibility License.”
To obtain this “Firearm Eligibility License,” which would allow you to exercise your Second Amendment-protected right to own a gun, S.B. 1029 sets out a variety of requirements you would have to meet in its 20 pages of legalese.
First, you would have to be a Pennsylvania resident over the age of 18. You would have to take 16 hours worth of training. In addition to the training fees, you would have to pay $50 for the license, and $30 every five years to renew it. Approval could take up to 45 days, and the license could be revoked at any time.
Without the license, handgun possession would be illegal. Worse yet, since the law would take effect 60 days after passage and the issuing authority can take up to 45 days to issue a license, current handgun owners could quickly become criminals if they aren’t able to comply due to the tight timing window.
So much for Article I Section 21 of Pennsylvania’s constitution, which reads, “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” Here’s the truth: When the state erects roadblocks to the exercise of fundamental rights, then freedom delayed can be the same as freedom denied.
Look at the tragic story of 39-year-old Carol Bowne, of Berlin Township, N.J. New Jersey has a similar handgun licensing law, and it cost Bowne her life. She was still waiting on her license more than six weeks after applying when her ex-boyfriend, a convicted felon, made good on his threats and stabbed her to death.
In fact, Haywood and Hughes’ plan is even worse: Where New Jersey allows 30 days for action—a time stipulation that local authorities routinely ignore—the Pennsylvania plan allows 45 days. Where New Jersey requires a permit to purchase a handgun, the Haywood-Hughes bill requires a license even to own or “control” one.