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Pennsylvania has joined the growing chorus of states looking to pass more gun laws in the wake of Parkland; Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for “commonsense” gun legislation, including universal background checks on all gun buys in the Keystone State.

Universal Background Checks

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Wolf urged legislators to pass laws that he says would close up “dangerous loopholes” which allow “dangerous individuals” to get their hands on firearms.

“We should pass legislation that requires all those who wish to purchase a firearm to go through a State Police background check; universal background checks are one of the best ways we can keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” Wolf said.

Wolf was joined at the press conference by Acting State Police Commissioner Lt. Col. Robert Evanchick, who went into a little more detail about the “dangerous loopholes” referenced by the Governor.

“In the commonwealth, a firearms transaction between two private parties does not require a background check if the firearm falls within certain criteria (these firearms are commonly referred to as long guns),” Lt. Col. Evanchick said. “It is this void in the current law we are in support of changing. The Pennsylvania State Police encourages closing this void in the current law and requests that all firearm purchases and or transfer of ownership require a universal background check.”

Pennsylvania is a “Point of Contact” state for background checks. That means it uses its own system rather than rely solely on the FBI’s NICS. Pennsylvania’s background check system is called the Pennsylvania Instant Check System.

SB 501

Wolf also called on the House to pass Senate Bill 501. Unanimously passed in the Senate, the measure is designed to stop domestic abusers with protection orders against them from owning or possessing guns.

“I ask that the House work to quickly pass SB 501, and that the full legislature get to work to help close loopholes and pass reasonable gun safety reform laws,” Gov. Wolf said.

“We need commonsense gun safety laws, and we need to use the incredible system the State Police has built by requiring all those who wish to buy a gun to go through this reasonable, convenient background check system, so we can keep powerful weapons out of the hands of those who pose a danger to our citizens and we can keep our neighborhoods, our communities, and our public spaces safe.”

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