A package of four bills that address gun violence in the Commonwealth were returned to committee by House Republicans on Monday.
In a cat-and-mouse game of political maneuvering, the proposals that included providing for safe storage of a firearm when not in use, prohibiting certain assault weapons, a red flag bill, and a measure to give municipalities more authority on protections, were vacated by the House Judiciary Committee and handed over to the Local Government Committee.
State House Democrats gave notice last Tuesday that they would use a procedural maneuver known as a discharge resolution to bring the bills up for a floor vote as early as Thursday. House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) canceled that Thursday session.
Since a bill must reside in a committee for 15 session days before a discharge resolution – applied when a committee refuses to report a bill – can be voted upon, the clock has essentially reset and blocked the legislation, as no discharge resolution may be considered during the last six legislative days of any session of the House.
All Republicans and about half of the Democrats voted to send the bill package back to Cutler with a recommendation that he pass them over to the Local Government Committee.
Those Democrats who sided with their GOP counterparts hope that the bill has a chance to advance from the Local Government Committee, believing there is no hope for action on the bills in Judiciary.
“These are efforts that are supported by 80 percent, 90 percent of our citizens,” said the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Tim Briggs of Montgomery County. “And we’re going to punt.”
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf called the parliamentary maneuver “shameful.”
“Lawmakers have an opportunity to take commonsense steps, which the majority of Pennsylvanians support. Instead of taking a vote to advance these bills, they are just delaying debate on this legislation. Gun violence won’t delay. Every day the Republicans stall, more people are at risk.