A look at Lehigh Valley lawmakers and their positions on gun legislation
As more mass shootings – including the deaths of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Texas and four at an Oklahoma hospital – have sparked renewed calls for gun control laws, Armchair Lehigh Valley took a look at recent efforts to pass legislation that would restrict or loosen Pennsylvania’s laws.
Attempts to pass legislation have been stymied on both sides of the political aisle.
The Republican Party controls the Senate with 28 members to the Democrats’ 21. The GOP controls the House with 113 members to the Democrats’ 90.
Republicans were able to push two pieces of legislation through both chambers – a bill expanding concealed carry options and one limiting local gun laws – but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf blocked them with vetoes.
Democrats don’t have the votes to get their proposals to the floor, let alone to a vote as witnessed by a recent effort to ban semi-automatic weapons.
Armchair Lehigh Valley looked at votes and legislation sponsorships by Lehigh Valley lawmakers.
Current Lehigh Valley senators are Pat Browne, R-16, and Lisa Boscola, D-18.
Current Valley House members are Peter Schweyer, D-22, Milou Mackenzie, R-131, Michael Schlossberg, D-132, Jeanne McNeill, D-133, Ryan Mackenzie, R-134, Steve Samuelson, D-135, Robert Freeman, D-136, Joe Emrick, R-137, Ann Flood, R-138, Zach Mako, R-183 and Gary Day, R-187th.
All are up for re-election in November except for Browne, who is trailing Jarrett Coleman in the uncertified results in the 16th Senate District’s GOP primary, and Gary Day who lost to Ryan Mackenzie (who will be in the 187th next year as part of the mandated redistricting). Schweyer will be in the 134th.
House Bill 770 would ban owning, selling or making high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons. McNeil, Schlossberg and Schweyer are co-sponsors. It had a procedural vote to allow it to go to the floor for a vote. That vote failed 87-111 on May 25.
Voting to allow a floor vote were Freeman, McNeill, Samuelson, Schlossberg and Schweyer. Voting against a procedural vote were Day, Flood, Mako, Milou Mackenzie, and Ryan Mackenzie. Emrick was marked E – excused from voting. It did not go to the Senate.
Carrying concealed firearms
Senate Bill 565 bill would allow anyone who wanted to carry concealed firearms to do so without going through a background check or having to get a permit. Among the co-sponsors was Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidate. The legislation passed the Senate 29-21 on Nov. 9, 2021. Browne voted yes and Boscola no. It passed the House 109-22 on Nov. 16, 2021. Voting yes in the House were Day, Emrick, Flood, Mako, Milou Mackenzie and Ryan Mackenzie. Voting no were Freeman, McNeill, Samuelson, Schlossberg and Schweyer. Wolf vetoed the bill.
Local gun laws
House Bill 979 would restrict the ability of local municipalities from regulating firearms. It would allow aggrieved parties to sue municipalities in court and collect damages. Emrich, Flood and Ryan Mackenzie were co-sponsors. The Senate passed the bill 32-17 on Jan. 25, 2022. Browne and Boscola voted yes. It passed the House 124-79 on June 8, 2021. Voting yes were Day, Emrick, Flood, Mako, Milou Mackenzie and Ryan Mackenzie. Voting no were Freeman, McNeill, Samuelson, Schlossberg and Schweyer. It was vetoed by Wolf.
House Bill 1538, which was introduced in 2021, would allow local governments to pass laws that restrict firearms. House co-sponsors include McNeill, Schlossberg and Schweyer. No committee or floor votes were taken. Besides proposed laws, the issue is before the state Supreme Court after the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit saying they should be able to pass their own gun laws, according to Spotlight PA..
Red flag law
Senate Bill 134 and House Bill 1903, which were introduced in 2021, would allow families and law enforcement to remove firearms temporarily from those showing they may be a danger to themselves or others. No votes were taken in committee or on the floor. Co-sponsors include Freeman, McNeill, Samuelson and Schlossberg.
Gun show sales
Senate Bill 88 and House Bill 235, which were introduced in 2021, would require guns purchased at gun shows to be subject to a universal background check. Gun transfers between direct family members would not be subject to the background check. House co-sponsors include Freeman, McNeill, Schlossberg, Samuelson and Schweyer. No committee or floor votes have been taken.
Senate Bill 217 and House Bill 980, which were introduced in 2021, would require gun overs to report lost or stolen firearms. Boscola is a co-sponsor in the Senate. House co-sponsors include Freeman, McNeill, Schlossberg, Samuelson and Schweyer. No committee or floor votes have been taken.
Senate Bill 581 and House Bill 699, which were introduced in 2021, would require gun owners to store them safely. House co-sponsors include Freeman, Schlossberg and Schweyer. No committee or floor votes have been taken.