Capitol Beat

Five for Friday: Gun control bills passed through House committee

The bills would still need to pass through a GOP-controlled Senate

House Democrats speak at a gun control rally in 2022

House Democrats speak at a gun control rally in 2022 Commonwealth Media Services

For the first time since the party took control of the state House in 2022, Democrats in Harrisburg have passed gun regulations out of committee. 

The House Judiciary Committee passed five firearm bills along party-line votes Wednesday, with Republicans opposing the measures. The state House is currently split 101-101 after Democratic state Rep. John Galloway resigned ahead of his taking office as a district judge, meaning the bills could face even more contentious debate on the House floor should they be considered before the Feb. 13 special election to fill Galloway’s seat. 

Debate during the committee hearing was similar to past gun-related discussions, with Democrats expressing the need to take dangerous weapons off the streets and Republicans arguing the bills would only hinder firearm access to law-abiding citizens. 

Republican leadership in the GOP-led Senate has said there are no plans to consider such legislation, making it highly unlikely that any of the bills – at least as currently constructed – will make it to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk. 

For the first Five for Friday of the year, we break down what is in each of these bills. 

House Bill 335: Ban on multi-burst trigger activators

House Bill 335 would prohibit the possession and sale of devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to simulate a fully automatic weapon, such as a bump stock. Any violation of this law would result in a first-degree misdemeanor. 

A similar federal ban on bump stocks is currently tied up in court. 

House Bill 336: Ban on future sales of assault weapons

In another proposal that mirrors a previously introduced federal ban, House Bill 336 seeks to ban the sale or transfer of firearms classified as “assault weapons.” Mirroring the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004, the bill would prohibit semiautomatic guns with specific features like military-style grips and those capable of accepting large-capacity magazines. 

House Bill 777: Ban on “ghost gun” parts

In an attempt to make guns more traceable, House Bill 777 seeks to require individuals who make their own firearms – commonly known as ghost guns – to put identification numbers on them. The bill would also require serial numbers to be stamped on gun parts that are not typically required to be serialized under existing federal law, whether they be home-built or factory-made. 

House Bill 1157: Mental health reporting requirements

House Bill 1157 looks to shorten the timeline under which courts must report to the state police a mental health, drug or similar adjudication that would limit a person’s ability to possess or purchase a gun. Under the new requirements outlined in the bill, courts would be required to meet a 72- to 96-hour window to report such instances, down from the seven-day window currently in place. 

House Bill 1190: Ban on 3D-printed firearm parts

Lastly, House Bill 1190, looks to take the ghost gun prohibition a step further. As written, the legislation would require a federal firearms license to 3D print a gun. Specifically, the bill would subject a 3D gun, meaning any  “computer or other electronic file distributed for any firearm or part of a firearm that is intended or capable of being manufactured or printed by a 3-D printer,” to existing firearms laws and regulations, regardless of whether the maker has serialized the gun or its parts.