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On Final Marathon Day of Legislative Session, Gun Control Bill Sent to Governor for Signature!!


On the last day of the legislative session the Legislature passed H.5163, An Act to Improve and Modernize the Information Technology Systems and Capacities of the Judiciary, in the wee hours of the morning. Originally H. 5046, the House made headlines last week when they snuck gun control language into a bill intended to modernize the technology services and infrastructure of the Commonwealth’s Judiciary system.

The original version of the bill included language that would bring certain aspects of the Commonwealth’s gun licensing scheme into line with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bruen by making licenses “shall issue”, removes the licensing authority’s ability to restrict licenses, and eliminates the licensing authority’s discretion. However, it also sought to codify the Commonwealth’s “suitability” standards-which GOAL objects to on the grounds that they are too subjective to work under Bruen. The bill also included provisions that would have cut the length a License to Carry is active from 6 years to 3 years, effectively doubling the cost of a license, and would require a license applicant, whether for a new license or renewal, to sit for an interview with the licensing authority. Thankfully the final version of the bill does not contain those two provisions.

The final version of the bill does include the elimination of restrictions and discretion. However, it does include language codifying “suitability” as well as a provision that would prohibit a person currently subject to a permanent or temporary harassment prevention order from obtaining a license to carry-a harassment order is a much lower legal standard than the usual abuse prevention order.

GOAL maintains the position that so-called suitability is unconstitutional and we are determined to keep up the fight to ensure that the licensing standard contained in Bruen is made law in the Commonwealth. There is NO REASON these provisions should have been snuck into a bill that had absolutely nothing to do with the matter, it is important that we keep our legislators accountable and vote for pro-civil rights candidates.

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