State Representative Aaron Bernstine announced his primary sponsorship of upcoming legislation at a Campus Carry Rally hosted by SRU’s College Republicans on April 13.
Bernstine’s proposed legislation, which he will officially introduce at the end of the month, includes a two-tiered system that would no longer require law-abiding Pennsylvania citizens to obtain a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF), allowing concealed carry without an additional license.
According to the PA Attorney General Concealed Carry License Reciprocity report from May 16, 2018, nine states currently do not require a concealed carry license to carry a concealed firearm: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia. Should Bernstine’s bill became law, Pennsylvania will be next.
Bernstine’s co-sponsorship memorandum, titled “Constitutional Carry of a Firearm,” acknowledges that citizens do not need a LTCF to openly carry a firearm.
The first tier of the bill will eliminate the requirement for a law-abiding Pennsylvania citizen to obtain a LTCF to conceal carry a firearm. In the current process, a Pennsylvania citizen who wants to obtain a firearm and a concealed carry process must complete two backgrounds checks.
Bernstine called the current process to obtain a concealed carry license through the sheriff’s office a “duplicative check.”
“The thing is, basically, the same check that that sheriff does is the check that happens when you purchase a weapon,” Bernstine said. “So, it’s almost like a duplicative check.”
In his co-sponsorship memorandum from March 11, Bernstine calls the current procedure to conceal carry a firearm unjust.
“If a citizen passes a criminal background check to purchase a new firearm it is patently unjust and constitutionally questionable to add layers of bureaucratic regulations on those who are least likely to commit a crime just because the citizen prefers to carry his weapon concealed,” Bernstine said. “Then when one examines the enforcement of the laws, against criminals, for ‘carrying firearms without a license’ the reasoning behind mandating a license ‘only’ for law abiding citizens quickly falls apart.”
The second tier of the bill includes the opportunity for Pennsylvania citizens to receive an optional concealed carry license. This would permit Pennsylvania citizens to conceal carry a firearm throughout Pennsylvania and in any other state in which a reciprocal agreement—an agreement allowing citizens in each state to conceal carry a firearm in the other state—is in effect.
“Our system is a tiered system where they can also go and obtain that license if they wanted to, which would give them the right to carry not only in Pennsylvania, but also the other states we have reciprocity with,” Bernstine said.
According to the PA Attorney General Concealed Carry License Reciprocity report from May 16, 2018, 32 states recognize Pennsylvania’s concealed carry license.