By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
HARRISBURG — Three Valley legislators are part of a group that is co-sponsoring House Bill 357, which declares any new federal limitations on guns to be unenforceable in Pennsylvania.
The bill, originally proposed by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12 of Butler, flies in the face of what U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was trying to accomplish with his compromise background check legislation, which was intended to close the so-called gun show and Internet sales loopholes. That legislation failed to get out of the Senate last week.
“A lot of people believe Sen. Toomey violated the trust we had extended to him through our support of him in the way he represented himself over the years,” Metcalfe said during a meeting last month of the Susquehanna Valley Conservatives.
But not state Rep. Fred Keller, R-85 of Kreamer, a co-signer of HB 357. He refused to criticize Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican.
“I think a lot of people misunderstood what was in Sen. Toomey’s bill,” Keller said Wednesday night. “I don’t think it was totally unreasonable. I will not come down on Sen. Toomey for having a dialogue on the issue. People are clamoring for our Washington representatives to do something, anything, to try and do something and work across the aisle. This is exactly what he did.”
That said, Keller remains a strong Second Amendment advocate, “and I will fight against any legislation that might curtail the rights of gun owners. That’s why I signed on to the bill.”
Meanwhile, state Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107 of Elysburg, admitted that he hasn’t fully read the Toomey legislation.
“I didn’t read it because I’ve been very busy in Harrisburg,” he said Wednesday. “So I really can’t comment on how I feel about what it contains. But in general, I have a real problem with anyone asking to change the language of already existing gun laws, which are strong enough. They just need to be tightly enforced.”
Masser declined to comment on Toomey’s background check ideas, repeating that the laws on the books should suffice.
“I’m a strong defender of the Second Amendment,” he said, “and I think the people in this area agree with me. As for criminals out to buy guns, I don’t think they obey any existing laws or would abide by any new laws.”
He said he agrees with the basic thrust of Metcalfe’s bill.
Calls to state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108 of Sunbury, were not returned by deadline Wednesday night.