Suburban Pa. Republicans lend support to background check bills

    Two bills aimed at closing the “gun show” loophole for firearm sales have garnered bipartisan support from lawmakers in Southeastern Pennsylvania.



    State Sens. Tom McGarrigle and Dominic Pileggi are the first Republicans to lend their names to the bills.

    “This isn’t really gun control,” said McGarrigle, whose district covers part of Delaware and Chester counties. “We’re not affecting the Second Amendment at all.  I just feel that having someone buy a gun privately should go through the same checks if they purchased a gun from a gun dealer.”

    Under current Pennsylvania law, anyone who purchases a handgun privately or through a dealer must go through a background check. However, long guns, such as rifles or assault weapons, can be purchased privately without a background check. Gun shows, a kind of flea market for firearms, may have both dealers and private sellers.

    The two bills, one sponsored by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero and one by Sen. Vince Hughes, both Democrats, would subject those private sales to background checks. The checks include exploring a purchaser’s record of incarceration and mental health records, and draw fees amounting to $88.50.

    Republican support boosts any bill aimed at accountability for firearm owners, but it will need champions in more rural parts of the country to pass. McGarrigle was blunt on the subject of whether he plans to make that happen.

    “It’s of concern to me, but it’s certainly not my top priority in the Senate,” he said Friday.

    Pileggi, meanwhile, is trying to get out of the Pennsylvania House altogether, and is on Tuesday’s ballot for a judicial seat in Delaware County.

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