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The Latest News from Your State Representative
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2024 Fighting for Your Constitutional Rights

Legislation intended to make changes to the state’s firearm laws was brought before the House for consideration on June 1, 2023. Two passed and two failed. Additionally, on May 7, 2024, the House voted on House Bill 335, which would prohibit the sale and possession of “machine guns” and “accelerated trigger activators” (also known as bump stocks).

  •   House Bills 714 and 1018, which address background checks and removal of a person’s firearms, were approved and sent to the Senate.
  •   House Bill 338, which addresses reporting of lost or stolen firearms, was voted down by a majority of the House.
  •   House Bill 731, which addresses trigger locks and storage requirements, had insufficient support from either side of the aisle to be put up for a vote.
  •   House Bill 335, which would prohibit the sale and possession of “machine guns” and “accelerated trigger activators” (also known as bump stocks), was voted down by a majority of the House.

  •   Please note that the Democratic Party holds the majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Most of what we consider in Harrisburg are not—or should not be—partisan or divisive issues, but caucus politics essentially guarantees they become so. In today's age, we are compelled to make a false binary choice and presume that "if you are not 100% for us, then you are 100% against us." Nothing could be further from the truth. People want solutions, not political posturing or “solutions in name only.” Sadly, while some of these bills have names which sound good, they fall short of addressing the real problems. Many of these gun bills were sadly solutions in name only.

House Bill 1018 – This bill is often called the “Red Flag law.” I voted against this poorly written legislation as it is a clear violation of a citizen’s right to due process. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The 14th Amendment guarantees procedural due process, meaning that government actors must follow certain procedures before they may deprive a person of a protected life, liberty, or property interest. Additionally, we already have a process for involuntary commitments. Unfortunately, House Bill 1018 would lead to the involuntary confiscation of people’s personal property without due process and thus, it is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.

We do not want to go back to a time when a simple accusation was all it took to violate a person’s rights. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, women were being committed to asylums for anything a man found remotely offensive. We disliked it then, and we should not accept anything like it now.

This legislation passed the House by a vote of 102-99. Should the bill be approved by the Senate and become law, it would likely be deemed unconstitutional in a higher court of law.

What we need to do is to revamp our 302 system. A 302 commitment in Pennsylvania is an involuntary commitment for psychiatric placement at an inpatient psychiatric unit.

House Bill 714 – Comprehensive background checks protect lives without depriving lawful firearm owners of their Second Amendment rights. This legislation was amended to require any attempted transaction by those who are not permitted to purchase a firearm to be reported to authorities. In addition, it included that illegal immigrants attempting to purchase a firearm be reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.
I voted in favor of universal background checks. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 109-92.

House Bill 338 – This bill would require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to the police within 72 hours of noticing it missing or stolen.

While the name and intent of the legislation is commendable, I opposed this legislation because this bill does nothing to penalize unlawful gun owners. Lawful gun owners are already incentivized to report the loss to their insurance company for compensation.

This “solution in name only” failed to pass the House because it provides no meaningful solution to the problem of people purchasing guns legally for other others who may not be permitted to own a gun.

The defeat of House Bill 338 prompted House Democrats, who run the calendar in the House, to drop efforts to run another poorly written bill, House Bill 731. Called “the safe storage bill,” the measure would require all firearms, including long guns, be sold with trigger locks and would mandate poorly defined storage requirements.

The name of the bill sounds good, right? Unfortunately, this legislation badly defines safe storage so that the only place one can really ensure complies with safe storage is on one’s body. I approve of a person defending his/her home, but this bill would inadvertently encourage more people to carry guns on their bodies!

These bills are not sound public policy. As mentioned in my previous reports, there were many attempts including my own proposed amendments, to make this legislation better, but they were stifled. We must find solutions to the problems and not just put forth bills with feel-good names assigned to them.

Additionally, on May 7, 2024, the House voted on House Bill 335, which would prohibit the sale and possession of “machine guns” and “accelerated trigger activators” (also known as bump stocks). However, it is not sound public policy to vote for a law that already exists and especially to supersede stronger federal laws already in place. Machine guns have already been banned by federal and Pennsylvania law, including any device that would create one.

On May 19, 1986, Congress passed the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act to prohibit possession of machine guns. Only military and law enforcement may possess machine guns manufactured after that date.

Pennsylvania also already makes a machine gun a prohibited “offensive weapon” as a matter of criminal law, according to Title 18, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Section 908. In other words, one who possesses a machine gun in Pennsylvania is both a federal and state criminal – right now with no further change of law necessary.

All machine guns (and a host of other devices) must already be registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, including the owners and any later transfer of the machine gun (or other devices). That means a full inventory of lawful machine guns and the owners is known as a matter of federal law.

Further, as of March 26, 2019, ATF amended its regulations to classify “bump stocks” as machine guns, effectively banning bump stocks as a matter of federal law also. Bump stocks increase the firing rate of a semi-automatic firearm by making use of the recoil to fire the firearm again without pulling the trigger. Again, these are already prohibited by federal law.

Finally, making use of a device (like Glock switches) to convert a lawful semi-automatic firearm into an unlawful machine gun would make the owner of such a firearm an instantaneous criminal under federal and state law.

Said most simply, the subject of this bill was already federal and state law and there is no point to the bill except to confuse the electorate and quite possibly create conflicting laws. Because both parties saw the futility of the bill, it failed to pass the House with a bipartisan vote against it.

I urge you to please read the actual language of the legislation to understand what these bills do and do not do. I have provided the links to the bills so you can judge for yourself. Criminals who use guns to harm people are law breakers. If they are not following our current, stringent gun laws, why would anyone think they would follow new ones? Let’s focus on ensuring our police and prosecutors are enforcing the laws already in the books, and make sure they have the proper funding and resources to do so. We also need to focus on the person committing the crime and expand services to address our mental health crisis rather than punish law abiding citizens.

Please note that I have never accepted financial gifts from the National Rifle Association (NRA). I will continue to do all I can to protect your Second Amendment rights while also advancing policies that will ACTUALLY make our communities and our citizens safer.

It is important for the Legislature to work on issues which unite us, not which divide us.


Valerie Gaydos
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District Office:
1005 Beaver Grade Road, Suite 106, Moon Township, PA 15108 | Phone: (412) 262-3780, Fax: (412) 262-3783
Capitol Office:
Room 428, Irvis Office Building, House Box 202044, Harrisburg PA 17120-2044 | Phone: (717) 787-6651 |
Email: vgaydos@pahousegop.com