In a move to address gun violence and enact stricter regulations, Democrats in the Pennsylvania House advanced two gun-control bills on Monday, utilizing their narrow majority to make

progress on the issue in a politically divided government that has experienced a standstill for years.

The proposed measures, described by the Democratic party as relatively moderate steps to curb gun trafficking, reduce suicide rates, prevent accidental shootings, and address daily acts of violence, have faced opposition from Republicans who argue that they unfairly penalize law-abiding gun owners.

One of the bills, known as the "red flag" bill, passed with a 102-99 vote, with two Republicans joining Democrats in support and one Democrat crossing party lines to vote with Republicans. This bill would enable a judge to authorize the temporary seizure of firearms upon the request of family members or law enforcement. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a prominent gun control advocacy group, nineteen states have implemented similar legislation.

During the debate, Democratic Representative Mike Schlossberg from Lehigh County shared his personal struggles with mental health and expressed his support for the bill, highlighting the importance of crisis intervention in preventing tragic outcomes.

However, Republicans voiced concerns that the red-flag law unfairly targets legal gun owners and accused Democrats of attempting to disarm law-abiding citizens.

Another bill passed by a vote of 109-92, seeking to expand background checks for firearm buyers in Pennsylvania and eliminate the "gun show" loophole, which exempted private sales of shotguns, sporting rifles, and semi-automatic rifles from background checks.

A third bill, narrowly defeated with a 100-101 vote, aimed to require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to the police within three days, with repeat offenders facing misdemeanor charges.

The fourth bill in the package, which proposed selling long-barreled firearms with trigger locks, did not come up for a vote.

These bills will now proceed to the Republican-controlled Senate, historically known for its support of gun rights, where their fate remains uncertain. However, Democrats have also been working with Republicans on increasing funding for anti-violence and mental health programs.

The introduction of these measures comes at a time when the United States is witnessing a significant number of mass shootings in 2023. In Philadelphia, gun violence played a prominent role in the mayoral campaign, and the city is seeking approval from the state's highest court to implement its own gun-control policies.

Pennsylvania's legislature, traditionally controlled by Republicans, has not seriously considered expanding gun-control measures since 2018. With the Democratic majority in the House, the ongoing debate on gun violence began earlier this year with a hearing in March. Photo by F McGady, Wikimedia commons.