Gun shop owner concerned over bill that would require stores to electronically track firearm sales

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Inside the Red Dot Shooting Range in New Castle, nearly 1,000 guns are sold each year. Each sale is reported to state police via paper copies, along with the sales from hundreds of other dealers.

“They are somewhere 18 months behind in processing sales, so this is their way of forcing the burden of labor onto the shops rather than themselves for updating and maintaining the database,” said Justin Mateer, the general manager at Red Dot.

Mateer has strong opinions against a proposed new state bill that would require all these shops to submit their sales electronically. It’s the state’s push to give law enforcement the ability to quickly and accurately trace guns found at crime scenes.

“With technology, it allows us to move forward and do this all on the computer — have it generated and information right there and share the information,” said Rep. Jim Rigby.

Riby is cosponsoring the bill because he said it’s not about gun rights and believes it’s just an update to the recordkeeping that will cut down on the immense backlog the state faces. Right now that backlog impacts anyone who buys a gun and if police run the serial number that isn’t updated, it can be confiscated and start a long process.

Mateer said this bill would require more costs and work for these gun dealers.

“It’s going to be more work. Smaller shops than me will have to buy special equipment so they can update the database potentially hundreds of times a year with any reliability so more costs and more work for shops,” Mateer said.

This bill is one of the biggest pieces of legislation CeasefirePA is pushing this year, as it already has bipartisan support at the co-sponsorship level which is almost unheard of when it comes to bills dealing with guns.

“Law enforcement just has more ability to notice patterns to put pieces of the puzzle together to have more data to really get a sense of here are particular dealers we are seeing guns they sold end up in crimes, that’s something we can look into or a way to connect the dots,” said Josh Fleitman with CeasefirePA.

The hope is to formally introduce the bill in the coming weeks.

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