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            by Allegheny County Sportsman's League


          I  have  told many people if you want to  see  how  gun
     rights  will survive if we get a  Republican  Administration
     and keep a Republican controlled Congress all that one needs
     to do is watch what has, and is, happening in Pennsylvania.

          In  addition to the horrible mess as a result of  Penn-
     sylvania Act 17 passing in 1995 last December, NRA  staffers
     approved  a ban on gun manufacturers lawsuits that  we  told
     them  would  not ban lawsuits before  Philadelphia  recently
     sued  gun manufacturers, a gun safety amendment that  turned
     into  a  ban on the sale of handguns that are  sold  without
     trigger locks, a mandatory trigger lock usage with liability
     penalties if handgun owners who do not keep trigger locks on
     their handguns, and most recently, after pressure by pro-gun
     lawmakers, the Pennsylvania State Police admitted that  they
     are  maintaining a record of all handgun sales (read  regis-
     tration) in spite of the fact that it supposedly  prohibited
     under state law, and they will continue to do so in spite of
     the law.

          Of corse Governor Ridge's office had no comment,  maybe
     because  he  is proud of the fact that he  has  computerized
     over  8  million of those handgun records and  he  is  still
     counting.   But do not fear, E.D.ILA Jim Baker told us  that
     none  of this would happen on his watch.  Just like the  as-
     sault  weapons ban, and the Brady law did not happen on  his

          ILA staffers in Pennsylvania believe it is more import-
     ant  pleasing  the Governor and Republican  leadership  than
     protecting gun owners rights.

          Last  December, the Pennsylvania General Assembly  sup-
     ported  amendments to a Senate bill  amending  anti-stalking
     and harassment legislation.  These amendments were to exempt
     gun manufacturers from lawsuits, provide for checking  fire-
     arms in a court facility, making the possession of a firearm
     illegal  if it's serial numbers were altered,  changed,  re-
     moved  or obliterated, and mandating the prohibition on  the
     sale   or  transfer  of  all  handguns  unless  the   dealer
     provides/sells  a locking device, to the purchaser, for  the
     firearm or the design of the firearm incorporates a  locking

          The Allegheny County Sportsmen's League argued that the
     language  in the bill to prohibit gun manufacturer  lawsuits
     would,  in  fact, allow them because the  language  added  a
     loophole to the bill.  We also argued against the  mandatory
     sale  of  handgun  locking devices because  it  would  place
     unnecessary  liability on the owners of such  firearms,  and
     there was no proof that such devices are effective in reduc-
     ing  illegal  access  to firearms.  Failing  to  draw  NRA's
     attention  to  our concerns about the legislation  we  asked
     members of the legislature to vote no on the bill.

          The NRA fought hard for passage of the legislation even
     though  it  contains the mandatory handgun  locking  devices
     language.  In a letter to both Houses NRA state liaison John
     Hohenwarter wrote: "Another provision provides that licensed
     firearm dealers must provide a "trigger locking device" with
     the sale of any firearm as defined in section 6102 of  Title
     18, the Uniform Firearms Act.  NRA would have preferred this
     provision  to require only that licensed dealers make  trig-
     ger-locking  devices available for sale to firearm  purchas-
     ers.   Nevertheless, because of the importance of the  other
     provisions to law abiding gun owners and to the public,  NRA
     asks  that you support the omnibus legislation in  order  to
     ensure their enactment."

          In response to the ACSL's request for a No vote on  the
     bill, Hohenwarter sent a memo to the full house of represen-
     tatives,  which  was  hand carried by Act  17  sponsor  Rep.
     Robert  Godshall  that  read: "It has been  brought  to  our
     attention  that  one  or more local  sportsman's  groups  or
     individuals  from the western part of the  Commonwealth  are
     asking for a "no" vote on SB 167.  These groups or individu-
     als do not represent the NRA.  Their position is not the NRA

          Thus  the NRA position achieved the following  legisla-
     tive result:

      1.  Liability on the gun owner for not using trigger  locks
          even if gun is stolen.

      2.  The  law contains no grandfather clause for  previously
          purchased handguns

      3.  The law is so broad that it even covers antique guns

      4.  A law that does not stop gun manufacturer lawsuits

      5.  Further alienation of the grassroots activists

          Shortly after passage of the bill and the signing of it
     into law by Gov.   Tom Ridge, the city of Philadelphia filed
     suit against the gun industry.

          Recently,  we  acquired the transcripts  of  the  floor
     debates on the amendments.  As you know, legislative  intent
     is very important to understand just what a particular piece
     of legislation is designed to do.   It is used many times to
     guide  court  decisions and to draft regulations.    A  very
     alarming exchange occurred between the maker of the  locking
     device amendment, House Judiciary Committee Chairman  Repub-
     lican Thomas Gannon, and anti-gun Democrat Andrew Carn:

     The SPEAKER pro tempore: On the amendment, the Chair  recog-
          nizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Mr. Carn.

     Mr. CARN:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Would the maker  of  the
          amendment stand for interrogation, please?

     The SPEAKER  pro tempore: The gentleman, Mr.  Gannon,  indi-

          cates  that he is willing to stand  for  interrogation.
          You may proceed.

     Mr. CARN.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Under this amendment, if
          someone  is properly utilizing a trigger lock and  that
          gun  is subsequently taken and used in a crime, is  the
          owner  of that gun exempt from being sued? What is  his

     Mr. GANNON:  Mr.  Speaker, I would have to say that,  in  my
          view, the owner would not be exempt from a lawsuit, but
          I  do not believe the owner would be held liable if  he
          was  exercising prudent and reasonable care in  use  of
          the  trigger  lock.  If a case or a lawsuit  was  filed
          against  the owner on a theory of negligence, I do  not
          believe  the  owner would be  negligent  and  therefore

     Mr. CARN:  But is there any language that exempts the  owner
          from liability under those conditions?

     Mr. GANNON: There is not any language that would exempt  the
          owner,  but certainly in a court, that would be  a  de-
          fense  to any claim, and I believe that it would be  an
          absolute  defense if the owner established that he  was
          using  a trigger lock and was exercising the  care  re-

     Mr. CARN.   Mr. Speaker, what does your amendment say as  it
          relates to antique guns? Do owners of antique guns have
          to also have trigger locks for their antique guns?

     Mr. GANNON: No, Mr. Speaker.

     Mr. CARN: Where is that language that states that, Mr.Speak-

     Mr. GANNON: Only if the person is purchasing an antique  gun
          from a dealer, that would require a trigger lock.

     Mr. CARN.   I was looking for language to that  effect.   Do
          you know- Could you point it out to me, please?

     Mr. GANNON: Yes.  The rule, as set out in the amendment,  is
          that  when  a licensee transfers a handgun, it  has  to
          have  a trigger lock, so it does not matter whether  or
          not it was an antique weapon or not.  It requires it.

     Mr. CARN.  So you are saying that all antique weapons, under
          this  amendment,  would also, under this law,  if  this
          became law, would be required to have a locking device?

     Mr. GANNON: Antique weapons would not be exempt.

     Mr. CARN.  Okay.  Thank you.  Another question, please: What
          happens if someone goes into a dealer shop to  purchase
          a  gun and at that particular time the dealer does  not
          have safety locks to sell? Is that dealer, if this  was
          law, able to sell that gun at that time?

     Mr. GANNON: No.

     Mr. CARN.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

     Mr. GANNON: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I want to make it  clear,
          because there was some confusion, this amendment,  this
          trigger  locking device, only applies to handguns,  not
          to long guns or rifles.  I think you are aware of that,

          but I wanted to make it clear on the record.

     Mr. CARN:  Thank  you,  Mr. Speaker.  Mr.  Speaker,  I  have
          finished  my interrogation and would like to  speak  on
          the amendment.

     The SPEAKER pro tempore: The gentleman is recognized.

     Mr. CARN.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

          "First,  I  would like to thank this House  for  taking
     this  time  to debate what I consider to be a  very  serious
     issue  in  Pennsylvania, the access of handguns,  and  I  am
     concerned that when we take action such as to require  trig-
     ger  locks,  I think we need to offer an incentive  such  as
     exemption from liability to those who comply with our  laws.
     I  have an amendment that hopefully, when we go further,  we
     will  get a chance to consider that.  Also, I think that  it
     is  important  because of the tremendous number  of  antique
     guns that exist in this State that are not being used or not
     fired,  that they should also have an exemption, since  they
     are not necessarily a threat and hopefully through a  future
     amendment  we can address that.  Also, I am  concerned  that
     dealers,  if  this became law, if they run  out  of  trigger
     locks,  I am concerned that they still might sell  this  gun
     and be in violation of the law, and I think that is an issue
     that  we  need to address.  Now, one of the  other  concerns
     that  bothered me with this particular amendment is that  it
     does  not exempt law enforcement officers, and I think  that
     is  a provision that we need to include in any law,  because
     there are many law enforcement officers who need their  guns
     or need their handguns in a moment's notice, and I think  we
     need  to  be clear in that they have the opportunity  to  be
     exempt  from  such a trigger lock provision.  And  for  that
     reason I am hoping that we shall consider a future amendment
     that  would address these concerns as well.  Thank you,  Mr.

          As  you  can  see, the current NRA  leadership  is  not
     concerned  with  winning, just the  perception  of  winning.
     Unfortunately,  the losers here will be average  gun  owners
     who  unintentionally  cross paths with  a  'winning'  system
     designed  to crush them without any regard to criminal  int-

          Remember  the  words of James J.  Baker  in  Charlotte,
     "Not on my watch".   Well, it's time to check the watch Jim!
     By  the way, has anyone forgotten the instant check  system?
     That was on Baker's watch too.   PA gun owners cannot  stand
     too many more of these types of victories.

          Just recently, Pennsylvania state Representative  Daryl
     Metcalfe  and 20 other pro-gun legislators sent a letter  to
     the  Commissioner  of the Pennsylvania state  police  asking
     whether the state police is keeping records of handgun sales
     in  violation  of state law.  Instead of sending  their  re-
     sponse  to Metcalfe they sent the Metcalfe letter to  a  re-
     porter  on the anti-gun Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The  Post-
     Gazette  questioned  Governor Tom Ridge's office  about  the
     letter,  but they had no response.   Maybe that  is  because
     Gov.   Tom Ridge is proud of the fact that he has  computer-
     ized 8 million of those record of sales.

          The  state police, according to the  Post-Gazette,  ac-
     knowledged that the law requires them to destroy the records
     of  a  background check, but they denied  that  keeping  the

     record  of sale as being a registry of firearm owners.   NRA
     Staffers  in Pennsylvania have supported the State  Police's
     position and will not move to stop the registry.

          We can not let Al Gore capture the Presidency.  But  if
     George Bush picks Tom Ridge for Vice President, we will have
     to keep a close watch on our gun rights under that  Adminis-


          The Allegheny County Sportsmen's League is another  one
     of the growing number of groups who prize the Second  Amend-
     ment  above the NRA, and thus they have the full support  of   If you are not yet aware of the NRA's
     gun control measures, perhaps it is time you learn what they
     are doing against freedom in this country.  Start by  inves-
     tigating  why there are gun rights leaders from  around  the
     nation standing against the NRA's loud call for the enforce-
     ment  for  20,000+  unconstitutional gun  laws  through  our
     Project Exile Condemnation Coalition.   Please use our auto-
     emailers  to  reach your entire state legislatures  to  make
     your voice heard.   And for God's sake please VOTE on  elec-
     tion day!  ~~ KABA