Pennsylvania lawmaker proposes gun registry, gets threats

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A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced a bill that he says would protect gun owners, but the proposal is getting backlash from people who say it infringes on their Second Amendment rights.

State Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Philadelphia) is the prime sponsor of House Bill 768, also known as the Firearm Registration Act. The measure would require gun owners to annually register each firearm with state police for a $10 fee.

Cruz says his legislation would help police with investigations and with tracking lost or stolen guns.

“This brings protection to a gun owner that they don’t have charges brought up against them if that gun is used for any criminal doings,” Cruz said.

Cruz says his legislation would protect lives by ensuring guns only get into the hands of people who are eligible to own them, and that every gun in the state is properly accounted for.

The bill would make exceptions for antiques and collectible guns.

“I’m not taking guns away from anyone,” he said. “I’m not violating anyone’s second constitutional amendment. I’m just trying to put protection on people, law-abiding citizens who may get their gun stolen or lost or whatever that matter may be. That’s all it does.”

“I think that’s a phony statement and a phony argument and a pretext for doing all the things that are objectionable,” said Brian Caffrey, an attorney for Scaringi Law in Harrisburg. “It’s not going to protect the gun owner. It’s going to put all kinds of burdens on the gun owner.”

Some of the criticism aimed at Cruz has crossed into threats since he introduced the bill last month.

“We’re getting threatening phone calls,” he said.

Cruz has also received threatening emails. One from an apparent retired Army lieutenant colonel used a racist slur and dared the representative to try to take his guns, stating “I’ve killed people for lesser reasons.”

“I’m doing this because the constituents of the 180th legislative district needed me to do something of this nature, and that’s why I’m doing it,” Cruz said.

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