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Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee Advances Dangerous Permitless Carry, Punitive Preemption Bills; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond

May 25, 2021

The Pennsylvania chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee advanced two dangerous gun bills – HB 659 and HB 979. HB 659 is a permitless carry bill which would allow people to carry concealed loaded handguns in public places without a permit or background check, dismantling Pennsylvania’s system of responsible gun ownership. HB 979 would expand Pennsylvania’s already restrictive preemption law to punish local officials for attempting to enact common-sense public safety measures in their communities.

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers submitted written testimony to the committee and are available for interviews.

“By voting for these dangerous bills, lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee are putting the safety of every day Pennsylvanians last,” said Erin Buchner, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Letting people carry handguns in public with no background check and no questions asked is an obvious recipe for disaster, especially as we continue to see the daily toll of gun violence exacerbated by Pennsylvania’s extremely weak gun laws.”

“After today’s vote, Pennsylvania voters have a clear split screen of who’s willing to take action to combat gun violence and who’s supporting laws that will make gun violence worse,” said Avery Hamill, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Philadelphia. “Lawmakers should be working to protect our communities from gun violence; instead, they’re advancing bills that would only make gun violence worse.”

What to know about permitless carry in Pennsylvania:

  • Permitless carry legislation, like HB 659, would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a background check, dismantling Pennsylvania culture of responsible gun ownership.
  • Permitless carry would take away a critical tool that law enforcement uses to differentiate between responsible gun owners and those who should not be able to carry a loaded weapon in public. 
  • States that have weakened their firearm permitting system have experienced an 11 percent increase in handgun homicide rates and a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime rates.
  • More information about permitless carry is available here.

What to know about punitive preemption bills in Pennsylvania:

  • HB 979 would expand and add punitive elements to an already dangerous preemption law, at a time when Pennsylvania cities are seeing the impacts of the dual public health crisis of COVID and gun violence. 
  • The bill’s extreme punitive elements would harm localities, punish taxpayers, and potentially line the pockets of out-of-state gun lobby groups

If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Pennsylvania Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]