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Every few months some gun-control advocate purports these erroneous ideas that restricting access to guns on law abiding citizens will drastically reduce crime involving firearms everywhere. These proponents overlook one simple fact: the vast majority of violent gun crimes are committed by criminals, not people who purchased their firearms legally. What these gun control reformers somehow fail to realize is that violent criminals don’t follow the law. Creating even more regulations will just place undue burdens on our law abiding citizen’s constitutional rights and will not make us any safer.
Recently we have seen proposed legislation in Pennsylvania in the form of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) and Ammunition Purchase Permits. Make no mistake, these are just another disguised attempt at backdoor gun control. ERPOs, or red flag laws, strip unsuspecting ordinary people of due process. Any citizen could file a report with law enforcement claiming that another person is a danger to themselves or the public. If that person is in possession of any firearms, the court may order them to be immediately seized and stored by the Sheriff or at an alternative location. To get his/her firearms back they must demonstrate with “clear and convincing evidence” that they do not pose a threat to themselves or others. That is an enormous burden for an innocent citizen to immediately convey before a judge. Our legal system is not established for us to prove our innocence. Additionally, the so-called Ammunition Purchase Permits are a bad idea. Introduced last year, in order to purchase ammunition for your firearm you would need a certificate, issued by the state, authorizing you to make the purchase. This permit would last a few years, cost $50.00 and is subject of approval by the PA state police. This is just another hoop for law abiding folks to jump through. These “Authorization Certificates”, which would take a month to process, could also be tracked, traced and the records preserved in the form of a catalogue. It is an outrageous idea to allow our state government to keep a list of the individuals who purchase ammunition. This would set an extremely dangerous precedent. We must insist on protecting all of our rights guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights, including the second amendment.
Instead, our focus should be on stiffening the sentences for criminals found in possession of illegal weapons. We need to crack down and fund programs to weed out “straw purchasers.” These are the people that purchase firearms legally and then knowingly re-sell them to restricted individuals. Enforcing the penalties for furnishing weapons to individuals who fail background checks or are prohibited from firearm ownership is a key tool to reducing gun violence. Illegal gun trafficking is where we need to focus our attention.
I am extremely proud to have received the endorsement from multiple gun rights organizations. Among them are: Gun Owners of American (GOA) Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). I have always been a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment which guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. Current gun control proposals are merely schemes that will put even more arduous restrictions on everyday people who use firearms for legal purposes like self-defense, competitive shooting, plinking, hunting, and collecting. Disarming law-abiding citizens will not prevent crimes.
Chris Gebhard is the Republican nominee for the Special Election for Senate District 48 on May 18. Senate District 48 is comprised of all of Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties.