Currently Browsing: Pennsylvania
Feb 20, 2017
Tomorrow at Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA there will be a forum featuring David Keene, former NRA President, and Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA. It runs from 7-8PM.
Keene has generally been a great spokesman for the issue. If anyone in the area wishes to attend, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a bit of a hike for me.
Feb 16, 2017
The en banc Superior Court, in Commonwealth v. Goslin, has ruled in favor of the defendant without dissent:
We disagree with the trial court’s conclusion that the language of Section 912(c) is vague.
Rather, we conclude that, in order to ascertain the meaning of Section 912(c), we need not look beyond its plain language. The plain meaning of Section 912(c) provides two separate defenses: possessing and using a weapon on school property “in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity” as well as possessing “for other lawful purpose.” (emphasis added, as Chief Counsel Prince specifically argued this exact construction and noted the different verbs utilized related to the different provisions)
The Court concludes:
Although we are concerned about individuals possessing weapons on school property, we are bound by the broad defense that the legislature has provided defendants in such cases.
Josh Prince is raising money for legal defenses, as the case is headed back to lower court for a re-trial. I wouldn’t exactly go carrying firearms on school grounds because of this ruling, but it seems pretty clear the legislature intended to supply a broad defense for people engaged in legal activity. We now have the second-highest court in the Commonwealth recognizing that.
UPDATE: More discussion here. It looks like the DA is dropping the charges rather than going through with a re-trial. Josh Prince also points out that this only creates an affirmative defense. The DA can still charge you.
Jan 31, 2017
The PA Game Commission has approved hunting with semi-automatic rifles:
For deer and bear, full-metal jacket rounds are not permitted and semi-automatics used for big game are limited to a five-round magazine capacity. The measure also carries a sunset provision that expires on June 30, 2020 to allow for a board review the measure.
Limited five rounds in the magazine or five round magazines? Though, I’m guessing a blocked 10 or 20 round mag would work if not.
Nov 21, 2016
I thought there might be a good chance that Governor Wolf would sign the bill. There are a lot of hunters in Pennsylvania, and this looked like the kind of fight he might not want to pick. I’m sure Pennsylvania going red in the Presidential race may also have played into Wolf’s thinking.
It’s really not any big deal, since Pennsylvania was one of the few states that ever restricted hunting with semi-automatics. I don’t hunt, so it’s not something I’ll personally take advantage of, but I’ve heard a few “you can’t hunt with them” arguments for restricting semi-autos, so it’ll be good to see that put to rest.
Nov 21, 2016
Change the states, and this could easily be Republican State Senator Greenleaf’s political epitaph if he doesn’t quit blocking our bills:
A powerful south Florida state senator who repeatedly sidelined popular gun rights legislation lost his seat Tuesday, opening the door for campus carry and open carry in the Sunshine State.
Florida State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and in 2015 refused to hold hearings on a bill to allow legal concealed carry on public colleges and universities. Diaz de la Portilla was also a fly in the ointment when it came to derailing an emergency concealed carry bill the year before and in 2016 was key in killing bills on campus carry and open carry, refusing to even meet with advocates.
The Dem replacing him is also rated F, but taking one F and replacing them with a more junior F who doesn’t chair a key committee can be a win overall. Senator Greenleaf, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee, who is the reason enhanced preemption had to be stuck on another bill, should think about that. Like Florida, the Pennsylvania GOP Senate majority could absorb the loss of one seat, and I’d be happy to donate to or volunteer, even for the most Kumbaya singin’, tree huggingist hippie, if they looked like they had a credible chance of getting him out of our way.
Nov 8, 2016
Let’s just say that it was interesting. We live in what’s considered a bellwether county in a swing state. Our voting location is rather unique because two precincts are divided into two rooms that are next to one another. One line is full of mostly apartment dwellers and the other mostly those who live in single family homes.
Because of the division, there end up being some observable demographic differences. In 2008, the line for the apartment folks was down the hall, down another hall, down a third hall and rounded back, and then out the door of the building. It is typically a very minority-heavy line. The line for the single family home neighborhoods is more white, and it really didn’t exist in 2008. In 2012, the apartment line was much shorter, though still long and largely minority. There was a line for the other precinct was one of the longer lines we’d ever seen there and mostly people with other family members.
How did these trends reflect in results? In 2008, well, Pennsylvania was never really in play and that showed. In 2012, our county went more red, the state was less solidly blue, and everything was a bit closer.
Today, the precinct for the apartments was still very long. However, unlike previous elections, there were a substantial number of white voters. I almost wasn’t sure which line we would be in because of the change in demographics. Regardless, we ventured down the hallway toward the precinct line that is practically non-existent just to make sure.
Then, shocking, we had a line. We had a line that went out into the hallway, turned a corner and snaked around, and then came back toward an entrance. It was still shorter than the other line, but wow. We had to wait half an hour. The guy behind us isn’t a regular voter, so he waited in the wrong line for an hour before he found out and still went waited in our line with a great attitude. I have no idea who he was voting for, but if demographics in polling mean anything this year – and I’m not sure how much they do in this area if I’m honest – then our line was pretty old, largely men and older couples voting together, and fairly pale skinned. The woman standing out with Democratic Congressional materials who we suspect came from New Jersey was looking very, very unhappy at the people coming in.
If there’s one rule that Sebastian and I share in this election is that we’re not making predictions. There have been too many surprises both nationally and locally. This definitely has to go down as one of the strangest election seasons I’ve ever lived through. I’ll be glad when it’s over.
Oct 25, 2016
Savor this, as it might be the only schadenfreude you’ll get this silly season: Kathleen Kane in handcuffs being carted off to prison. They had high hopes for this rising star in Democratic politics, and now where are they? Bloomberg sank, if I recall, about half a million into her race. That’s a lot of cash to spend to buy a few reciprocity agreement changes, but it’s always good to get in the ground floor of a rising political career. But that was not to be.
I noticed that Bloomberg was only willing to dump an even quarter million to Josh Shapiro’s campaign in the AG race this time around, but at this point he’s probably only looking to protect his gains from that office rather than looking for risky favors.
Oct 25, 2016
Pennsylvania voters will be casting votes for a ballot initiative they have already defeated once this year. Why?
Because lawmakers realized what the outcome would likely be and decided at the last minute to invalidate the question wording to put something more misleading on the ballot instead. Based on a test run by a polling firm, they are going to get what they want by playing dirty.
What’s the issue? Judicial retirement ages.
In April, we were asked directly whether or not to increase the age at which judges could retire from 70 to 75. The question before voters was clear:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?
It explained who it would apply to, the proposed change, and the old rule. Perfectly reasonable ballot question! Except that when you look at the history of these types of votes in other states, they almost always go down in defeat. So the lawmakers decided to change the wording at the last minute. Except absentee ballots were already printed and voting machines programmed. Instead, we were told that our votes wouldn’t count, so we shouldn’t bother voting on it. But 2.4 million people voted anyway, and they said no to the increase – exactly what lawmakers feared would happen.
When the new language was announced, a couple of former Supreme Court Chief Justices sued on the basis that it’s deliberately deceitful. You be the judge:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?
Funny how now it sounds like you’re adding a judicial retirement age to the constitution instead of extending the terms of those in office! Even funnier that the current Chief Justice turns 70 this winter, and the next in line for the seat turns 70 next year. What an odd and completely unexpected coincidence! What an even stranger coincidence that the Supreme Court decided to leave the question alone with one Justice recusing, half saying it’s perfectly clear and the other half saying it’s confusing. Average age of the justices voting that it’s clear as day? 62. Average age of those voting that it’s clear as mud? 55. If you count the Chief Justice’s recusal as putting him in the camp of those wanting the new, confusing language, that average age goes up to 64.
While I did vote no on the initial non-binding vote, I could have been convinced that it’s worthwhile to increase the retirement age. But now, no way. This is a deliberate deception, and one columnist mentions that a local polling firm has found it’s likely going to work exactly how lawmakers and the courts wanted it to work.
Berwood Yost, chief methodologist for the Franklin & Marshall Poll, … found in a split-ballot experiment that voters presented with the current wording tended to vote “yes.” When asked if justices should be able to retire at 75 instead of 70, however, most say no.
If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, I would strongly encourage you to vote “NO” on the ballot question this November. More importantly, tell your friends and family who vote about what’s going so they know not to support this kind of deceit. In April, it was a legitimate vote on the retirement age. Next month, it’s a more of a vote on legal ethics. Don’t let them play these games and get away with it.
Oct 1, 2016
Because protections built into the law mean nothing to the Pennsylvania State Police. They apparently have illegally linked the LTCF information to our Drivers’ Licenses so that when you’re pulled over at a traffic stop the officer can see all your information related to the LTCF. It may not just be cops either:
Furthermore, even if there was, it is illegal to disclose this information to individuals other than a law enforcement officer acting in the scope of his/her duties. As I understand the new system, it is being relayed to emergency responders, which may even include tow truck drivers that are part of the system.
I’m very uncomfortable with this state of affairs. This essentially makes Pennsylvania a duty-to-inform state. How long before they link this to the plate readers the cops use these days? Bullshit. This information was supposed to be private and increasingly we’re seeing state officials violate the law when they feel like it. What’s worse? Most of the time they get away with it.
Sep 22, 2016
The new pre-emtiion enhancement bill, HB 2258, is now going before the Pennsylvania House floor, having been voted out of committee by a 21-6 vote. I’m curious to see if we can pass this with a veto-proof or near veto-proof majority. The GOP controls the House and Senate at levels in this state that have not been seen for decades, and there are still some pro-gun Democrats out there, so I’m hopeful we’ll get a good vote tally.
When this bill was briefly law before it was invalidated by the courts for violating the single-subject requirement of our state constitution, it did a lot of good. Most municipalities folded like a cheap deck of cards once challenged under it. The only holdouts were the big cities, which fought the law using the single-subject argument.
Follow this link to go to NRA’s handy app that will help you write your rep. Let’s get this done.