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Bump stock ban, electronic gun sale registry shot down

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(The Center Square) – Bills banning bump stocks and creating an electronic gun sale registry came up short in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The proposals failed by one vote amid a narrow divide in the lower chamber after critics said both violate the Second Amendment and, in the case of bump stocks, duplicate federal law.

“I understand the issues of gun violence,” said House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Quarryville. “I understand the desire to blame an inanimate object, which is what this bill does and which is why it won’t work.”

House Bill 335 defines accelerated trigger activators, or bump stocks, as “a part or combination of parts” that make a semi-automatic weapon – which requires a trigger pull each time a round is fired – perform like a machine gun, which does not.

The National Firearms Act criminalized bump stocks in 2019 in the wake of a Las Vegas outdoor concert shooting that left 60 people dead and hundreds more injured. Fourteen weapons confiscated from the gunman’s hotel room were equipped with the devices.

Supporters say that the federal law isn’t enough to prosecute lawbreakers in Pennsylvania, however.

“Here’s the little rub,” said House Majority Leader Matt Bradford, D-Lansdale. “Let me tell you something, local DA’s can’t prosecute federal crimes” he said of district attorneys.

House Bill 2206 requires gun dealers to send electronic records of gun sales, rather than paper versions as is law now, to the state police.

Supporters say doing so gives law enforcement a necessary tool to trace guns found at crime scenes. Critics say doing so leaves owners’ personal information vulnerable and runs afoul of their constitutional rights.

Rep. Frank Burns, D-Johnstown, crossed party lines to provide the tie-breaking no vote for both bills. The Center Square was unsuccessful in trying to obtain comment from the lawmaker.