Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Council Prez Doug Shields Asks For Your Help

** UPDATE FROM DOUG SHIELDS: Bill was voted down, 125 to 78. **

The Pist-Gazette is staunchly against any “feel-good” legislation by any governmental body on any topic. Enacting laws which cannot be enforced ….. or worse, enacting laws which, when enforced, do nothing to address the situation said laws were specifically drafted to address …..is an aggravating, weaselly practice.

Amendment A0617 to (House Bill) H.B. 1845 is NOT such a piece of weaselly legislation. Simply put, this bill addresses the issue of guns sold by straw men which get into the hands of criminals who should not have them.

The scheme occurs when someone without a record (straw man) legally (background checks done) buys guns from a bona-fide gun dealer. The straw man then turns around and illegally (no background checks, no license to sell) sells these guns to criminals who could not purchase the gun otherwise. If a crime is committed with one of these illegally sold guns, and the gun is traced back to the straw man, he simply claims he did not commit the crime and has no knowledge of the crime because the gun was “stolen”.

A0617 to H.B.1845 puts an end to this dangerous nonsense. It requires every gun owner to report stolen guns to the police within 3 days of the theft. Failure to report the theft will be a crime in and of itself. So, Mr. Straw Man’s choices will be drastically narrowed. He can either stop selling guns illegally, or he himself will start paying for the crimes committed with the guns he has illegally sold.

Pretty straight-forward and very common sense. Please read what Doug has to say and PLEASE contact the state representatives Doug lists below NOW. Time is short:

We need the blogging community’s help! The Council of the City of Pittsburgh believes mandatory reporting of lost or stolen handguns to the police is a common sense reform whose time has come in Pennsylvania.

Law enforcement and police across Pennsylvania strongly support a lost or stolen handgun reporting law as a key tool to help police crack down on straw buyers of illegal handguns.

The bill in question is an amendment to HB1845, and the amendment is sponsored by Rep. David Levdansky, D-Allegheny County. It simply, requires people who buy a handgun to report the handgun if lost or stolen to the police within three days of discovering the loss or theft. Violating this law brings penalties ranging from a summary offense for a first violation to a felony for repeat violators.

It will be voted on Monday,March 31, 2008 in the House.Opponents in the House, led by the NRA, are raising a host of procedural objections.

We need Allegheny County residents, to call their local state representatives and urge them to do the following when the House returns next week:
Vote YES on the Levdansky Amendment (A0617 to H.B. 1845) This amendment is the lost or stolen handgun reporting law at issue.

Phone calls to House members NOW can absolutely make a difference.

** Rep. Sean Ramaley, Leaning yes. D-16th, Allegheny/Beaver. 724-266-7774.

** Don Walko, D-20th. Undecided. PLEASE CALL. 412-321-5523

** Lisa Bennington, D-21st. Leaning yes. Call anyway. 412-361-2040.

** Joe Preston, D-24th. Yes. Call anyway.

** Joe Markosek, D-25th. Allegheny/Westmoreland. Undecided. "Interested but noncommittal." 412-856-8284.

** Tom Petrone, D-27th. Leaning yes. Give a quick call. 412-928-9514

** Frank Dermody, D-33rd. Leaning No. PLEASE CALL. 724-274-4770.

** Marc Gergely, D-35th. Undecided/leaning No. 412-754-3500.

** Harry Readshaw, D-36th. Undecided/Leaning No. PLEASE CALL 412-881-4208

** Bill Kortz, D-38th. Leaning No. "Opposes gun control." 412-466-1940.

** Dave Levdansky, D-39th. Yes. Rep. Levdansky is the prime sponsor of the Amendment. Call him and thank him for his leadership on this important issue. 412-384-2258

** Matt Smith, D-42nd. Undecided. 412-571-2169.

** Nick Kotik, D-45th. Leaning Yes. Please call. 412-264-4260.

** Jesse White, D-46th. Alleghny/Beaver/Washington. Undecided. 724-746-3677

** John Pallone, D-54th. Allghny/Armstrong/Westmoreland. Undecided. 724-339-1990

** Mike Turzai, R-28th. Undecided/Leaning No. PLEASE CALL 412-369-2230

** Randy Vulakovich, R-30th. Undecided. 412-487-6600

** John Maher, R-40th. Leaning Yes. CALL HIM. 412-831-8080

** Mark Mustio, R-44th. Undecided. 412-262-3780

Thank you,

Douglas Shields
City Council President, City of Pittsburgh


Shred said...

Char, I whole heartedly agree with the intent of this law, but I feel this law leaves way too much of room for the innocent and law abiding to get caught up. This is a law that takes absolutely no action whatsoever for a law abiding citizen to be turned into a criminal.

A gun is not like your car, you walk out of your house to go to work and 'Where's my car? Somebody stole my car!' I don't wake up in the morning and reach over to the night stand and put on my gun.

If someone jimmied my lock and stole my shot gun I wouldn't know it was missing until I went to use it which probably wold be sometime around October. Even then I'd wonder if I left it at the hunting camp or maybe my brother borrowed it.

Too often gun laws have been used ensnare the innocent and law abiding , let's leave out the name of that notorious organization; and I can't support the law in it's present form.

Come up with a way so a law abiding owner has a fighting chance in court and I'll be for it.

Char said...

You know .... I did think of that. Also thought about it in the opposite way. Meaning my fear of "useless" and "toothless" laws.

I agree, many law-abiding citizens probably wouldn't know their gun was gone until way after the fact. And in that instance, I'm not sure how the DA would get a conviction. They'd have to somehow prove you knew it was gone and I have know idea how they'd do that.

Unless, of course, you constantly had guns being stolen and didn't know about it.

So I imagine after the 3rd, 4th, whatever unnoticed gun, a prosecutor could make a case you were lying.

Not a lawyer ..... but that was my thought process.

Judge Rufus Peckham said...

If a person exercising reasonable care to safeguard his or her gun loses it, or if the gun is stolen, such persons obviously should be exempt from any such law.

The law at issue is not targeting those people. We know who the law is targeting. The law is targeting those straw-persons who are complicit before-the-fact in crimes that will be committed with the very weapon he or she deals. The subsequent crime committed with the weapon, and any ensuing liability in a civil action, should be imputed to such straw-person.

It is a perfectly sensible law and will hold those responsible who recklessly enable crimes with firearms.

Anonymous said...

This amendment is really a no brainer. Everyone is screaming "we need something to be done about this senseless hand gun violence.

This is the first time we have been able to get a bill on gun safety on the floor for a vote in ten years. Do you people realize that PA is a major target for "Straw purchase deals" why you ask??? because, NY,NJ,MI,CON,OH, RI,DEL have all passed this bill. Poliece, Doctors, Council members, District attorney's, Citizens are not only supporting it. We are begging. I don't think it has anything to do with a responsible hand gun owner being falsely accused...I think it has more to do with the NRA, their money and distorted ideas of the safety of the tax payers.
It's a shame that Allegheny County has Democrats like Don Walko (who has part of his district in the North side) and Frank Dermody voting NO. Something wrong with that picture don't you think? Hope you remember their names when they come up to be re elected.
Onward. We aren't going to stop here. We will keep pushing. I mean SOMETHING has to be done.

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