Philly DA Set To Start Using Unenforced Mandatory Reporting Law

There must be something in the water in Pennsylvania.

It’s not the water that most people drink, necessarily. No, it’s whatever water the politicians in the state seem to be drinking. First, you have all this insanity in Pittsburgh. Now, it seems the Philadelphia district attorney has decided, “What the hell?”


In the city, there’s an older law that’s been on the books for a while but hasn’t been used. Now, the D.A. wants to start using it.

DA Larry Krasner has found a class of potential criminals he’s hot to pursue — legal gun owners.

He’s used CPR to revive a passed-but-unenforced city ordinance that has been comatose for a decade.

While taking a swipe at the NRA, past Philadelphia DAs, the federal government, the state legislature, and the state attorney general, Krasner said enforcing a law that gun owners must report lost or stolen weapons “does not regulate guns.”

The benefit to gun owners: If a gun used in a crime is traced back to the original owner who has reported it stolen, that person is pretty much in the clear. But if the gun was not reported, the owner gets written up.

But the law has flaws. Gun owners may not know that a firearm was lost or stolen, and the fine is too high — as high as $2,000 for a first-time offender, with future offenses possibly bringing 90 days in jail.

Then there’s the question of whether the law will pass constitutional muster.

Former DA Lynne Abraham says it will not.

The trick on preemption laws is usually the fact that they have to be enforced before they become an issue. The idea that the law has been on the books this long is irrelevant.

When Krasner prosecutes someone for it, he’s going to have a problem.

The issue here’s that straw purchases account for a small portion of how criminals get guns. Far more are actual black market sales of previously stolen guns. If that gun is stolen, then used in a crime, why should the original buyer face any repercussions for that?


The truth is that not everyone realizes their guns are stolen.

I can hear some people gasping at the idea. I mean, how can you not know a gun is stolen, right?

The thing is, it’s not that difficult to miss. Unless there’s been a break-in at your home, you won’t know to look for one thing. For another, if you have a number of guns, you don’t necessarily do a visual check on them each day. I have firearms in my safe I haven’t laid eyes on in a year or two. They’re not really shooters for me, so I don’t pay them any mind. If one went missing, I’d probably never realize it.

But under this law, I could be prosecuted if someone used it in a crime and I hadn’t reported it as stolen.

In other words, I’d be victimized twice. Once by the criminal and once more by the system.

No one would be any safer. I’d just be a whole lot poorer. That fact makes me wonder how much of this is really about public safety and how much is about revenue creation.

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