HARRISBURG, PA — On Thursday, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed Senate Bill 565, legislation that would allow anyone who wishes to carry concealed guns able to do so without a background check and permit.
Gov. Wolf’s SB 565 veto message:
“This legislation, which eliminates the requirement for individuals to obtain a license before carrying a concealed firearm, will only exacerbate gun violence and jeopardize the safety of all Pennsylvanians.
”Each year there are more than 1,600 victims of gun violence in Pennsylvania. These victims and communities deserve to have meaningful legislation passed to address the scourge of gun violence. I support many public policy proposals that would help solve this urgent issue, including safe storage legislation, extreme risk protection orders, enhanced reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns, and closing gaps in the background check system. Unfortunately, this bill would make gun violence worse and would put law enforcement officers at greater risk of harm.
”I would like to make clear that this veto will in no way affect the rights of the 1.3 million Pennsylvanians who have legally obtained a license to carry or the millions of Pennsylvanians who legally own a firearm.
”This legislation removes the requirement that an individual obtain a license, and with it, the ability of law enforcement to conduct a background investigation. Removal of the licensing background investigation will hinder the ability of law enforcement to prevent individuals who should not be able to carry a firearm concealed from doing so. Domestic abusers and other dangerous criminals should not have the ability to carry hidden weapons in our communities.
”In states without concealed carry licenses, there is an 11 percent higher rate of homicide than those states who require a license. The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association both oppose this legislation and there are no law enforcement organizations in Pennsylvania that support this bill. I stand with them, domestic abuse survivors and advocates, responsible gun owners, and victims of gun violence who have expressed their opposition to this dangerous bill.
The Governor insists that this veto is not a move to restrict the rights of lawful gun owners, as they can still conceal carry when they apply for a permit and successfully pass a background check. So far in 2021, nearly 360,000 license-to-carry background checks were completed and nearly 11,000 were denied. This is a veto against harmful legislation that puts public safety at risk across the commonwealth.
“As communities across the state struggle with crises like gun violence and suicide, Senate Bill 565 was a poorly timed, poorly conceived plan to expand access to firearms and would have risked the lives of more Pennsylvanians,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware. “The House Democratic Caucus fought tirelessly to defeat this legislation and will continue to oppose measures that create greater burdens on our communities, health care providers and law enforcement as they work to lessen the trauma firearms are causing our communities.”
“When Senate Bill 565 was raced through our chamber, Senate Democrats fought it and tried repeatedly to amend it with safety measures. We were part of a large and broad coalition that opposed unregulated concealed carry; that coalition included not only gun violence prevention advocates but members of law enforcement,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. “This veto will keep our communities safer and prevent an unsafe and unlimited rise in concealed firearms in our communities.”
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