In response to the ACSL's request for a No vote on the bill, Hohenwarter sent
a memo to the full house of representatives, which was hand carried by Act 17
sponsor Rep. Robert Godshall that read: "It has been brought to our
attention that one or more local sportsman's groups or individuals from the
western part of the Commonwealth are asking for a "no" vote on SB 167.
These groups or individuals do not represent the NRA. Their position is not the
Shortly after passage of the bill and the signing of it into law by Gov. Tom
Ridge, the city of Philadelphia filed suit against the gun industry.
Recently, we acquired the transcripts of the floor debates on the amendments.
As you know, legislative intent is very important to understand just what a
particular piece of legislation is designed to do. It is used many times to
guide court decisions and to draft regulations. A very alarming exchange
occurred between the maker of the locking device amendment, House Judiciary
Committee Chairman Republican Thomas Gannon, and anti-gun Democrat Andrew Carn:
The SPEAKER pro tempore: On the amendment, the Chair recognizes the
gentleman from Philadelphia, Mr. Carn.
Mr. CARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would the maker of the amendment
stand for interrogation, please?
The SPEAKER pro tempore: The gentleman, Mr. Gannon, indicates that
he is willing to stand for interrogation. You may proceed.
Mr. CARN. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Under this amendment, if someone
is properly utilizing a trigger lock and that gun is subsequently taken and
used in a crime, is the owner of that gun exempt from being sued? What is his
Mr. GANNON: Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that, in my view, the
owner would not be exempt from a lawsuit, but I do not believe the owner would
be held liable if he was exercising prudent and reasonable care in use of the
trigger lock. If a case or a lawsuit was filed against the owner on a theory
of negligence, I do not believe the owner would be negligent and therefore
Mr. CARN: But is there any language that exempts the owner from
liability under those conditions?
Mr. GANNON: There is not any language that would exempt the owner,
but certainly in a court, that would be a defense to any claim, and I believe
that it would be an absolute defense if the owner established that he was
using a trigger lock and was exercising the care required.
Mr. CARN. Mr. Speaker, what does your amendment say as it relates to
antique guns? Do owners of antique guns have to also have trigger locks for
their antique guns?
Mr. GANNON: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. CARN: Where is that language that states that, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. GANNON: Only if the person is purchasing an antique gun from a
dealer, that would require a trigger lock.
Mr. CARN. I was looking for language to that effect. Do you know-
Could you point it out to me, please?
Mr. GANNON: Yes. The rule, as set out in the amendment, is that when
a licensee transfers a handgun, it has to have a trigger lock, so it does not
matter whether or not it was an antique weapon or not. It requires it.
Mr. CARN. So you are saying that all antique weapons, under this
amendment, would also, under this law, if this became law, would be required
to have a locking device?
Mr. GANNON: Antique weapons would not be exempt.
Mr. CARN. Okay. Thank you. Another question, please: What happens if
someone goes into a dealer shop to purchase a gun and at that particular time
the dealer does not have safety locks to sell? Is that dealer, if this was
law, able to sell that gun at that time?
Mr. GANNON: No.
Mr. CARN. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. GANNON: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I want to make it clear, because
there was some confusion, this amendment, this trigger locking device, only
applies to handguns, not to long guns or rifles. I think you are aware of
that, but I wanted to make it clear on the record.
Mr. CARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.