Eichelberger Introduces Gun Rights Bill
State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. (R-30) announced Monday his plan to introduce legislation to safeguard the protections contained in the Pennsylvania Constitution against attempts by the federal government to dilute them.
“Many, including myself, believe that Pennsylvania’s constitutional protections of the right to bear arms are much clearer and stronger than those contained in the federal document,” stated Eichelberger. “I also believe it is a clear principle of law that a state constitution may not offer less protection than the U.S. Constitution, but it can afford greater protections.”
Pennsylvania’s provisions regarding the right to bear arms predate the federal constitution. In fact, Pennsylvania was the first state to address the right to bear arms in its constitution. By the time the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted, Pennsylvania had already reaffirmed the right to bear arms as a fundamental individual freedom. The year before the ratification of the federal Bill of Rights, Pennsylvania’s protections were made even stronger, by adding the clear and unequivocal phrase, “shall not be questioned.” The language, in Article I, Section 21, has carried through since that time: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”
Eichelberger noted: “My legislation would make it clear that the commonwealth will not assist the federal government in watering down individual rights protected by its constitution. The bill would prohibit the use of any state or local resources, including personnel, buildings and equipment, to enforce any new federal restriction on the purchase or ownership of any firearms and accessories which are currently legal products in Pennsylvania.”