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Enthusiasts cheer Pa. bill to make federal gun ban unenforceable

Brad Bumsted/Tribune-Review
Gun enthusiasts attend a Second Amendment rally in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 1:24 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — A week after the U.S. Senate nixed a gun control measure pushed by President Obama, gun advocates in Pennsylvania said they will lobby for a state House bill making any federal law to ban guns unenforceable in Pennsylvania.

H.B. 357, authored by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry, holds that any federal law that “attempts to register, restrict or ban a firearm or to limit the size of a magazine” would be unenforceable in Pennsylvania.

Lawmakers said 74 legislators co-sponsored the bill, which would make it a felony for any federal, state or local government agent to enforce a federal gun control law restricting gun owners' rights.

Hundreds of gun enthusiasts cheered the lawmakers on Tuesday at a rally on the Capitol steps. Metcalfe used his eighth annual Second Amendment Action Day to promote the bill, filed in January.

Busloads of supporters from Westmoreland, Beaver and Butler counties were among those who attended with dozens of legislators, including several House leaders and a few Western Pennsylvania Democrats.

“Let's move it through,” said Rep. Rick Saccone, a Republican from Elizabeth.

A Duquesne University law school professor said the bill sounds unenforceable.

“I don't want to overstate it, but I think we settled this at Appomattox,” where the South formally surrendered to end the Civil War, said professor Wes Oliver. “That's just crazy,” he said of the bill.

Kansas recently approved a similar bill that exempts Kansas-made guns from federal gun laws, Metcalfe said.

Separately, CeaseFirePA urged lawmakers to enact “common-sense laws” to reduce gun violence.

“Law-abiding gun owners should join in our work,” CeaseFirePa Executive Director Shira Goodman said, “because we are focused on taking steps that keep guns out of the wrong hands and make us all safer.”

At the rally, many in the crowd wore NRA hats, signifying membership in the National Rifle Association, and carried signs with sayings such as, “Don't Tread on Me,” “Stop Obama” and “Pat Toomey, You are Fired.”

Toomey, a Republican U.S. senator from Lehigh Valley, co-sponsored legislation that would have required background checks on rifles and shotguns sold at gun shows and on the Internet. The Senate last week defeated that provision and other gun-control measures.

“The Senate, yes, handed us a victory but the campaign continues on many fronts,” said retired Capt. Sean Parnell of Butler County, an Army Ranger, author of a bestseller “Outlaw Platoon” and featured speaker at the event.

“You're going to send a clear message today,” said Rep. Matt Gabler, a DuBois Republican who filed a bill similar to Metcalfe's that stalled last year.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com

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