“Pennsylvania Constitutional Carry 2021”
State Senator Cris Dush (R-25)
Full co-sponsor list viewable here - https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/bill_history.cfm?syear=2021&sind=0&body=S&type=B&bn=565
Introduced to the State Senate on April 16, 2021. Referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 24, 2021.
Senate second consideration on November 8, 2021. Re-referred to Rules and Executive Nominations Committee on November 8, 2021 and amended.
Re-referred to Senate Committee on Appropriations on November 9, 2021. Re-reported as committed. Third consideration and final Senate passage via a 29-21 vote. SB 565 sent to the House.
The House Judiciary Committee passed SB 565 with 13-10 vote on November 10, 2021.
Second Consideration on the House floor on November 15, 2021. Multiple anti-gun amendments defeated. Bill Re-committed to the House Appropriations Committee.
Third consideration and final passage in the House on November 16, 2021 by a 107-92 vote. Gov. Wolf has indicated that he will veto.
This bill would amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. These amendments would eliminate prohibitions on carrying a firearm without a license in the state of Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 565, as amended, starts with a succinct summary of why Constitutional/Permitless carry legislation should be supported by stating, “The laws in existence regulating firearms LICENSING are ineffectual in preventing crime and only interfere with the natural rights of law-abiding citizens.”
SB 565 would strike Section 1. Section 6106 of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. This is the section of current Pennsylvania law that prohibits carry of a firearm without a license. Section 6. Section 6122 of Title 18 is also repealed. This repeal eliminates the need to inform a law enforcement officer about a firearms license or carrying of a firearm.
Section 2. Title 18 is then amended to add Section 6106.2, “License not required.” In this section, as amended, it states that every person has an “every person present in this Commonwealth WHO IS NOT PROHIBITED FROM POSSESSING FIREARMS UNDER FEDERAL LAW OR THE LAWS OF THIS COMMONWEALTH shall have an affirmative, fundamental and constitutional right to keep and bear firearms, including the right to carry openly or concealed.” This section also maintains an optional licensing system.
Section 3. Section 6108 of Title 18 is also repealed. This would allow for the carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia.
SB 565 would also create a “sportsman's firearm permit” that allows anyone 18 or older to carry any lawful firearm on their person in conjunction with a valid hunting, furtaking or fishing license or permit relating to hunting dogs. This permit is good for five years.
SB 565 would allow any legal adult in the state of Pennsylvania who is not prohibited from possessing firearms under federal and state law to conceal a firearm on their person. This means 18 to 21 year olds could carry without a permit.
However, as amended, in section 6109 (b) regarding the optional licensing procedure the age for acquiring an optional permit to carry is still “21 or older.” This contradiction was not in the bill as introduced. As amended, this means a non-prohibited 18-20 year old could lawfully carry without a permit but could not apply for an optional license until age 21.
For the optional permit, the issuing authority currently has up to 45 days to investigate an application. Under SB 565, that is reduced to 14 calendar days. If passed, these provisions would be enacted 60 days after the passage of the bill. Contrary to opposition talking points, nothing in this legislation would allow for criminals to carry a firearm, either permitless or with an optional license, in the commission of ANY misdemeanor or felony offense.
Currently, Pennsylvania has relatively pro-gun, GOP majorities in both the state House and Senate. The major issue this bill faces is with a certain veto from anti-gun Governor Tom Wolf (D). Even though the GOP controls majorities in the House and Senate, they do not have a 2/3rds majority to override a Governor’s veto.
However, even when bills have a high likelihood of short-term failure, such as SB 565, it does not mean that FPC members and supporters should not make their voices heard with their legislators. It is important to get feedback from legislators' offices if they do or do not support the concept of Constitutional carry; even more important is recorded votes to see where legislators stand.
Lastly, any momentum gained in pushing legislators on this bill will move into the next legislative session. Rome was not built in a day but work still needed to be done daily.