CeaseFirePA applauds PA House passage of bipartisan legislation to address growing threat from ghost guns

    In a significant win for gun violence prevention advocates, on March 27th the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation to subject ghost guns to the same rules governing traditional firearms in Pennsylvania. 

    House Bill 777 passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 104-97 and now moves to the PA Senate. 

    Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade firearms that can be assembled from a kit with no serial number, can be purchased without a background check, and can sometimes be 3D-printed – the perfect weapons for use in crime.

    The legislation would require a background check to purchase these kits (preventing prohibited purchasers like convicted felons from easily accessing these weapons) and would require a serial number to be printed on the firearm frames (allowing law enforcement to track and trace the weapons as part of routine work to solve crimes and interrupt gun trafficking).

    “Today was a good day for a safer Pennsylvania,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA Action. “Ghost guns shoot, kill, and destroy lives in the exact same way as traditional firearms, but they’ve long evaded even the most basic existing gun safety rules. Today’s vote moves us closer to ending that policy failure and fulfilling our government’s primary duty to keep Pennsylvanians safe from preventable violence.” 

    The bill’s passage comes less than two weeks after a shooter armed with a semi-automatic ghost gun rifle killed three people in Bucks County and then fled to New Jersey in a stolen vehicle, triggering an interstate manhunt and forcing the Falls Township community into a lockdown.

    “It was a normal, quiet Saturday morning. I was caring for my grandchildren, then all of a sudden I got an alert to shelter in place as a triple-homicide suspect fled law enforcement blocks from my house with what we now know was a ghost gun rifle,” said Peggy Walsh, a resident of Bucks County. “It was terrifying and I struggled to explain to my grandkids why they couldn’t go outside without frightening them. And now, just a little over a week later, to see the PA House of Representatives taking strong action to stop ghost guns and protect families like mine – all I can say is that I’m grateful and I urge the Senate to quickly pass this legislation.” 

    “Three innocent people were shot in cold blood because of a ghost gun. All of Falls Township was put in a lockdown because of a ghost gun. This all occurred 15 minutes from my home. I don’t feel safe anymore. Something MUST be done about banning ghost guns,” said Mike Katsoff, also a resident of Bucks County.

    Beyond the high-profile incident recently in Bucks County, the threat to the public posed by ghost guns is quickly growing.

    The number of ghost guns recovered by law enforcement in the City of Philadelphia increased from just 12 in 2018 to 575 in 2022 – a 4,600% increase.

    Nationally, the U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) reports that in 2022, approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement – a ten-fold increase from 2016.

    Representatives who championed the legislation hailed today’s successful vote:

    “The state House made history last year when it passed bipartisan, commonsense gun safety legislation. But there is more to do to keep our neighborhoods safe,” said House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia & Delaware). “Now, House Democrats are leading the charge to keep ghost guns off the streets and protect all Pennsylvanians.”

    “The proliferation of ghost guns in our communities has risen to a dangerous level and led to a significant number of shootings. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities, and that’s why House Democrats have prioritized moving common sense gun safety measures that will keep us safe without infringing on anyone’s rights,” said House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery). “I’m proud to support this legislation, which improves safety and supports the ongoing efforts of our law enforcement to protect us all. I’m grateful to community partners like CeasefirePA who remain committed to ensuring safer communities.”

    House Bill 777 now moves to the PA Senate, joining two other bipartisan gun violence prevention bills that have passed the House but languished for 310 days without any Senate action. CeaseFirePA and hundreds of its grassroots and coalition supporters will descend on the Capitol on May 7th for End Gun Violence: PA Advocacy Day to continue pressuring the Senate to take up bipartisan, life-saving legislation that Governor Shapiro has said he would sign into law.




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