Aug. 16, 2019

HARRISBURG — Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s gun violence prevention executive order:

“While some portions of the governor’s order are of sound logic – such as going after and monitoring hate crimes and racist groups – other parts of it violate the Constitution and these proposed solutions have been found to be inconclusive by the Rand Corporation in a recent gun policy research review.

“Red flag laws violate a person’s due process rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the rights guaranteed under the Second, Fourth and Sixth Amendments would be cast aside. As the incident in Philadelphia earlier this week exhibited, we need to be devoting money and resources to going after the criminals and those who assist with the illegal acquisition of firearms, not violate the rights of law-abiding citizens. A task force to do this already exists under the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office for the Philadelphia area. I am circulating a co-sponsorship memo to create a similar task force for the western part of the state and look forward to the governor supporting this effort. We should also ask why prosecutors and courts have been lenient with criminals who are repeat offenders of firearms laws, just like this case.

“For several years, I have worked to streamline firearm purchase background checks by consolidating the instant background checks. Currently, both a Pennsylvania-only check (PICS) and national (NICS) check are used to examine the backgrounds of those purchasing firearms in the Commonwealth. This double check creates unnecessary duplication that not only costs additional money and time, but also results in information not being shared across all levels of government. My legislation, which promotes data sharing between federal and state agencies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals like the convicted felon who shot at police in Philadelphia earlier this week, should be part of any agenda to prevent gun crimes. We should be joining forces with local, state and federal agencies to share information.

“The auditor general recently began to review PICS at the request of my colleagues and me. While the PICS system has served the Commonwealth for over 30 years, never have its functions been evaluated through a special audit. It is important that all laws related to background checks conducted in order to purchase firearms are followed. For example, we need to make sure denial letters are issued in a timely fashion to allow for appeals. In addition, it is vital that mental health records and other disqualifying information are accurately reported or removed from a person’s file to restore rights.

“While I appreciate the concerns of the governor, I cannot support any executive order that stops law-abiding citizens from exercising their rights as guaranteed by the founders of our country.”

The 46th Legislative District includes Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg, McDonald and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County. It also encompasses Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships, and Burgettstown, McDonald and Midway boroughs in Washington County.

Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
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