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Voting While Armed

A few days ago, we saw the beginning of a controversy brewing in Pennsylvania when it comes to the election – and not just the voter fraud accusations already flying. Rep. Bryan Cutler posted a link to the debate in his area when Lancaster County commissioners considered a ban on firearms in polling places. According to local news, is was either a directive or “suggestion” from the state on how towns can ban guns:

Stehman said she made the recommendation to the commissioners at the direction of the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The good news for the folks in Lancaster County is that a) you have a gun owning lawmaker who is looking into why the Department of State is trying to push an illegal resolution in all of the counties, and b) the commissioners recognized that the ban would be a legal and logistical nightmare and opted to follow the law.

But it’s a fair question to ask why someone at the Department of State would ask all 67 counties to break state law and pass these bans on possession?

[The directive/”suggestion” from the Department of State] then lists several sections of the Pennsylvania Elections Code that could be cited to justify such resolutions.

But [Commissioner Craig] Lehman said state and federal law are pretty clear that counties can’t legislate gun possession.

“I would hope the Department of State would have provided the legal justification for its direction, but it clearly doesn’t address the Uniform Firearms Act at all,” he said.

Once contacted by Rep. Cutler, the Department of State appears to have discovered the Uniform Firearms Act and fully agreed that local bans on lawful carry in polling places is completely illegal – even though they tried to push all the counties to pass those illegal bans.

NRA isn’t taking any chances and warned its members here to contact their local county offices to demand they say no to gun bans. I’d still like to know who exactly was responsible for the directive/”suggestion” because it seems like a very targeted group to keep away from the polls in a year that will no likely help the currently administration & House leaders.

UPDATE: Good news via Rep. Cutler:

Victory in the gun in polling places debate. Dept of State sent a clarifying memo verifying that counties are preempted from regulating guns. … However, note if polling places are in a area that is already regulated such as a courthouse or school that regulation must be followed.

I’m still not happy that the Department of State felt it could send an instruction packet on how to ban guns to the counties. I’d call for a little accountability since they spent serious time (looking through all of the state laws – except the one that actually matters) and some money on this fiasco. But, at least it is resolved. I vote at a school, but I think I’ll be standing at the polls at a different location, so this does impact my right to carry. Especially since Sebastian will be in another area working for a different candidate.

15 Responses to “Voting While Armed”

  1. Dannytheman says:

    Good news, Bad news.

    Delaware County Jaquiline Laird says they know the law. But I have noticed that more and more Schools have been more chosen as polling locations. The kids are out, and teachers are off working the polls probably, but you still have to think before carrying in a school.(Has not been defined on LTCF rules) My polling place is a church community center, and I always carry concealed, so no freak outs in my poll.

    But bravo to the open carriers that go there. I just always fear I would lose my job!

  2. TXGunGeek says:

    It is already a state jail felony to carry in Texas.

    “(2) on the premises of a polling place on the day of an
    election or while early voting is in progress;

    So it is a moot point here unfortunately.

  3. Heather from AK says:

    All of my polling places have always been schools, so it’s a moot point.

    Although it really bugs me up here… back in CT, school would not be in session. Here, school remains in session, but they’re still polling places… weird.

  4. Miguel says:

    Not kosher in Florida:

    790.06(12) – No license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize any person to carry a concealed weapon or firearm……any polling place

  5. Ed says:

    Not sure what the law is in VA, but my polling station is a church, so I’d have to have a “reason.” And “because I wanted to” is not a reason. Sucks.

    • Bitter says:

      I usually voted at the county government center out in Fairfax and then again in Annandale. I hope it was okay to carry because I don’t remember if I did or not. :) If I had been voting before or after work, then it would have been a definite no due to DC.

  6. Alpheus says:

    I remember rumors to the effect that if a Greek in Alexandrian times were to vote, he’d have to show up completely armed, and wearing his armor; this is to show that he was prepared to defend Greece.

    I’d like to see a similar attitude here–any person who wishes to vote, and is in the age range of Militia service, would have to bring a rifle and a pistol suitable for that service.

    At the very least, it shouldn’t be made illegal to carry weapons to polling places, so long as they are only used to confront those who try to intimidate others from voting.

    Of course, all of this is probably less viable than getting machine guns legal again.

  7. Bubblehead Les says:

    Be careful out there! Many School Gun Bans apply to the School GROUNDS, and many of those have Security Cameras running in the Parking lots. So taking your lawfully carried CCW weapon off the belt and putting it into your trunk may have a cop wrestling you to the Ground as you approach the School Building.

    Also, some of the Schools have TSA-type Metal detectors at the entrances, and you may be popped for even carrying a penknife as you try to Vote.

    Read Tam’s post from a few days ago on what happened when she tried to vote in Indianapolis at the Court House a few days ago.

    If you haven’t Voted Early and are heading to the Polls on Tuesday, I’d recommend adding an extra hour to your routine. Dress nice, take nothing with you that would stop you from passing through a TSA Checkpoint, and buy a solid wood Cane for your “Bum Knee”. Also, be prepared for “Voting Machine” problems, “Paper Jams”, “Lost Registration Lists”, forms that say YOU already Voted, and harassment at the Doors by some members who are “Community Activists”. I expect some trouble at some Polling Locations this coming Tuesday, so be Prepared. The old days of chatting with the “Church Ladies” are gone in many locals.

  8. cybrus says:

    Does that mean, Sebastian that in this case, you’ll be open carrying?

    • Bitter says:

      First of all, my name is not Sebastian. Learn to read. Second, we vote at a school. Third, we’re both going to be helping out campaigns at a variety of polling locations, some of which may be off limits. That means that in order for our activism to be effective – i.e. actually turn out the vote for pro-gun candidates – no one will be open carrying.

  9. cybrus says:

    Whoa! Slow down there! I apologize, Bitter, for getting the author wrong – I was too interested in the article and didn’t scroll back up for the byline. I was not trying to be antagonistic and I don’t think I was rude. I was just curious because you said this issue would impact your right to carry and I was wondering if that was because you were going to be open carrying – if you weren’t then I didn’t see how it would impact you as no one would know you’re carrying in the first place.

    Again, I apologize for assuming Sebastian wrote this – I’ll try to catch that next time so I can avoid the curt reply.

  10. Bitter says:

    It matters even if someone was carrying concealed because it’s one of the many battles against preemption being waged by the anti-gun groups here. The Department of State instructed all of the counties to pass gun possession bans at the local level in direct violation of state law & the Ortiz decision. At least one county started the process of considering action, and we don’t know how many more were open to it, but it didn’t get any press coverage. Considering they are coming after us on preemption on every major issue in Pennsylvania, it’s kind of a big deal to have the administration now put us in the crosshairs – especially when the end result would be gun owners illegally turned away from the polls.

  11. gnbrotz says:

    Can you explain a little more how one cannot be an “effective activist” if they open carry while participating in electioneering activities?

  12. Bitter says:

    Sure, that’s easy. One, this is only a few miles from Philly. It’s a different culture here, and certainly one on edge about any attempt at voter intimidation due to the lovely Black Panther situation nearby in 2008.

    Two, the goal is to elect pro-gun candidates. See above. If the perception for even one undecided voter is that it makes them uncomfortable, then you’re losing the battle in a race as close as most of them will be around here.

    Three, I may be asked to assist at multiple polling locations due to various needs of the campaign. If I am unable to assist where they the most help because of a gun on my hip, then I am once again going to fail at my mission of reaching as many undecided or soft voters as possible.

    It’s not a hard concept to understand that flashing a gun on one’s hip isn’t a solution for every single problem. Considering that I’m looking at the end goal of electing people who will help protect my rights – and yours to carry openly if you so choose – I’m happy to suppress any need I might feel to show off my status as a gun owner in a way that may make some people uncomfortable on a day when we really can’t afford to lose one single vote.

  13. gnbrotz says:

    I’ll accept the qualification of your geographic area, and the political climate associated with it.

    I’ll also agree that OC isn’t always “the answer”, but it’s also not always verboten either, simply because of the specific venue/situation. There have been several OC electioneers around the state that I’m personally aware of that conducted their activities without any known backlash, or so much as an objection from those they were representing.

    I don’t suggest that OC is “the way it must be done” to be effective, and bristle at suggestions of the opposite. The bottom line is that it’s a personal choice, and subject to the wishes of those you may be representing during activities such as those we’re currently discussing. IMO, either can be both completely appropriate *and* effective.

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