Citing the December shooting deaths of a classroom full of Connecticut first graders as a last straw, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-153) of Montgomery County has entered the the national gun control debate by co-sponsoring legislation that would "ban the possession, use, control, sale, transfer, or manufacture of an assault weapon within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
The bill, H.B. 517, defines as assault weapon as any "selective-fire firearm capable of fully automatic, semi automatic or burst fire at the option of the user." It also lists a roster of specific semi automatic gun models that would be prohibited.
Republican state legislators have vowed to stall the bill, which Dean sponsored along with Rep. Ronald G. Waters (D) of Delaware County.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County, told WHTM of Harrisburg earlier this month that the Dean-backed bill had "zero" chance of moving forward.
For his part, Metcalfe has introduced H.B. 357 ― its number selected for the popular caliber of handgun ammunition ― which would attempt to neutralize any federally enacted restrictions on firearms in Pennsylvania.
If the Metcalfe-backed bill passes, and some form of federal gun control legislation does come to fruition, it could set up a legal confrontation between the state and the federal government.
Dean, whose district encompasses Upper Dublin Township and Abington Township, has said she believes that the two sides can find common ground on the issue of gun regulation.
"Across America, 90 percent of people believe that we ought to have universal background checks. In fact, 80 percent of gun owners and 70 percent of NRA members think so," Dean said during a recent interview with Comcast Newsmakers.
"I think that's the first place we [Democrats and Republicans] can work together," Dean said.