Currently Browsing: Pennsylvania
Feb 25, 2015
It would seem that the Brady Campaign staffers were making funding promises to Pennsylvania officials that they may have had no intention of keeping.
Back when Pennsylvania municipalities were regularly passing gun control ordinances, several cities only went through with the measures that violated state preemption laws because the Brady Campaign/Center promised, via MAIG and CeasefirePA representatives, to pay for the defense of those ordinances if the cities were sued.
Well, now the threat of lawsuits is looming and the Brady Campaign is telling the media that they never made such promises by claiming that the person who made the promises wasn’t really speaking for them.
While the local Fox affiliate dug up city records from Lancaster and Erie that showed they made those promises, we recalled another instance in Radnor. Except, Radnor lawmakers demanded the promise in writing. From Sebastian’s 2010 report on that meeting:
Commissioners seemed skeptical when CeaseFirePA mentioned that the Brady Campaign would pick up the tab for any lawsuits against the ordinance, and indicated they’d want it in writing. It’s my opinion the Bradys will be very reluctant to put anything into writing, so I think that’s a strategy to use going forward. Get your local politicians to demand that. If the Bradys don’t deliver, that’s another point, and it may start the politicians wondering whether the promise is worth anything.
It seems that now we have the proof that the Brady promises on this issue really were worthless.
In Lancaster, the pledge came from Max Nacheman who represented MAIG and Brady at the time and would later represent CeasefirePA. In Radnor, it appears that Commissioner Elaine Schaefer called the Brady Campaign herself and got the pledge that the group would defend the town. So the Brady Campaign is now trying to claim that the exact same promise made in at least 3 different cities via at least 2 different people, was really just some random miscommunication?
Yeah, that’s totally believable.
It would seem that town officials are now learning what we’ve been trying to tell them for years – you can’t believe the false promises the anti-gunners tell you when they are trying to get their agenda passed. They need something to call a “win,” and if your budgets take a beating due to legal expenses because they told you to do something illegal, they don’t care. It’s still a “win” for their agenda even as taxpayers lose.
Feb 19, 2015
[UPDATE: Link fixed] Pro-gun attorney Josh Prince makes a good case for it. The criminal penalty for violating preemption is not part of the new Act 192, but was an original feature of the 1974 preemption law. The problem, however, is that it would require the county district attorney to bring charges, which they’ve never been willing to do. In this case, I doubt they would. Anyone charged would likely have a decent First Amendment claim that their donation was a form of protected speech. So from the beginning there was never any enforcement mechanism for preemption, so many towns and cities through Pennsylvania just ignored it, and passed their own gun control laws anyway. While rarely enforced, if you were one of the unlucky few, it was on you to hire an attorney at your own expense, to defend against the charge and challenge ordinance in court. While this almost always resulted in victory under Pennsylvania’s preemption statute, you were out the money for court costs and attorneys fees. The legislature set out to fix this with Act 192, and at least Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg don’t appreciate being held to account for their own illegal behavior.
Sorry fellas, you’ve been flouting the law for 40 years now. Time to pay up.
Feb 6, 2015
Wow. Just wow. One of the former city officials who backed the Bloomberg/CeasefirePA effort to enact local gun control laws said that his city needs to fight on behalf of gun control because he wants to keep the city safe for “white, wealthy individuals.”
Michael Donovan, a former member of city council who supported the lost and stolen gun law, said Allentown should be joining other prominent Pennsylvania cities in their fight against the state law.
“Allentown is the third largest city in the state,” he said. “It is claiming a renaissance for wealthy, white individuals who wish to be safe. I believe the mayor has a responsibility to join the fight against this law.”
No, I’m not kidding. The gun control ally really did say that out loud to a reporter. But, it got buried at the bottom of the story. Do you think if he was a Republican that this would be at the very bottom of the story?
Feb 5, 2015
An article in Slate is just fine with saddling gun owners with hefty legal fees to get a charge based on an unlawful ordinance thrown out, but not with making the towns pay legal fees to defend them. And the article even links to an analysis (and judgement) that the harassment laws are “unenforceable.” But the laws are still on the books, because there’s no real cost to the municipalities. To be fair to the author (though not to the headline writers) the article references a couple of real incidents where law-abiding gun owners were harmed. On the other hand, it takes uncritically and without support statements by the anti-gun side that the laws are effective, unused, and harmless.
These kinds of municipal ordinances designed to harass gun owners are primarily signalling mechanisms, intended to show that the municipality doesn’t want “those kind” of people here, and were expected to be risk-free; because they would only be used against those not able to defend themselves either in the courtroom of law or public opinion. Funny how laws violating civil rights work out that way. But now that the state is making them put up or shut up, most are folding.
It’s a bit of a shame that the enabling language had to be tacked onto a different bill, giving the deep-pocket municipalities a chance to strike down on the “germaneness” grounds. Sebastian probably has a better idea of how that’s going to fly in PA courts than I do.
Incidentally, the article claims the NRA refused requests for an interview. Good for them, there’s not a chance in the world that an interview with a Slate reporter with an axe to grind would have helped. And as usual, the comments section is rather more pro-gun than not, which is another indication of how little grass-root the other side has left.
Jan 23, 2015
The leader of a gun control group here in Pennsylvania told a Lancaster, PA outlet that they don’t consider actual prosecutions of crimes to be a relevant factor in pushing gun control laws.
In the more than five years the law’s been on the books, not one person has been prosecuted.
“It’s just to lord it over law-abiding people and threaten them with it — which is wrong and immoral,” said Jonathan Goldstein, the NRA’s attorney on the case.
Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, agreed that prosecutions aren’t the point of the law.
So, if enforcement isn’t the point of passing gun control laws, then what is the goal? Is it to score a “victory” to use in fundraising for more gun control group salaries? Or is the goal to create a patchwork of such complicated laws that no one wants to bother trying to become a lawful gun owner? These are questions the paper isn’t willing to follow up on, even though it should be a little odd that a gun control group spokesperson is indicating she doesn’t care if there’s any enforcement of the laws she claims are sooooo vital to public safety.
Jan 15, 2015
Remember the headlines about Maryland police officers possibly targeting gun owners for stops?
Well, we could be looking at the similar attitude against guns and their owners coming to Pennsylvania highways. The Maryland State Police Superintendent was just appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to be the new head of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Elections have consequences, and this is just one more reminder for those guys and gals you know who are choosing to sit home and pout rather than trying to find a coalition so that they – and their rights – aren’t under constant attack.
Jan 15, 2015
The cities are Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. One presumes that the timing of these suits is related to an ill-advised lawsuit launched by U.S. Shield Law. These are the three cities that have thumbed their noses at the new preemption law, and are actively working to have the law invalidated by the courts as unconstitutional. They attorney handling the case is Jonathan Goldstein, who is a good choice, and is experienced in arguing gun-related cases. In the mean time, Attorney Joshua Prince’s campaign against the many municipalities across Pennsylvania is bearing a lot of fruit. It’s practically daily a municipality agrees to rescind its law. Only Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have, so far, been willing to put their taxpayer dollars on the line to thumb their noses at the rights of their citizens to have gun laws be uniform throughout the commonwealth.
Jan 14, 2015
The Express-Times are standing behind New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s blue law that bans hunting on Sunday, originally enforced because you should be in church. They are arguing hunters have to share the great outdoors, which they largely pay for, with other people who don’t pay for it. I am not a hunter, but it’s very important for gun rights in this country to turn around its decline. There are plenty of people on our side who are happy to throw the “fudds” off the lifeboat, but the hunting cultures nonetheless provides a lot of bodies to the gun rights movement, and it’s decline will hurt us at the end of the day. Nearly every other state in the country allows Sunday hunting. There is no reason that New Jersey and Pennsylvania should be among the last states to repeal this blue law.
Jan 13, 2015
Our current Congresscritter, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, jumped on board with the “must look squishy” stance after Newtown and decided to sponsor gun control in the House even when it became clear there would be no vote.
It’s not a shock at all. No one actually believes he has a spine on any issue, but that’s part of why some people vote for him. Even our biggest frustration with him isn’t so much that he puts his finger in the air to try and guess the wind direction before taking a position, but that he’s actually not very good at it from a political strategy standpoint. (Of course, he might argue that he wins elections, and that’s a valid argument.) However, in all of that, he didn’t get on board with a gun ban, even though local folks thought he would in the wake of anything controversial. So, that’s at least something positive in the less-than-ideal political reality.
Rep. Fitzpatrick also pledged to term limit himself. He’s not running in 2016, which means it’s an open seat that only very slightly leans Republican in voting habits. It’s up for grabs for either party. The first to start the process of running? A local lawmaker who pushed banning possession of semi-automatic firearms – confiscation. In his statement, State Rep. Steven Santarsiero complained the gun ban legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to be too moderate and pro-gun for his liking. Lovely.
This speculative field of alternative candidates who have grades doesn’t look good for gun rights, either. (Though some on that list haven’t run in an office to have an official grade or put out an official statement on the issue. And one, Jim Cawley, just announced a cushy non-profit CEO job today, so it’s safe to say he’s not interested.) Given the passion with which we oppose the policies of the officially declared candidate, this is a race we will be watching closely.
Sebastian and I have already spent dinner conversations on the subject, and we’d like to see one of the state senators from the area run. For Pennsylvanians who follow politics, we’re thinking Sens. Tommy Tomlinson or Chuck McIlhinney. One advantage to McIlhinney, beyond his previous A rating, is that it would help clear the path to liquor store privatization once Gov. Wolf is out of office. On the other hand, Tomlinson probably has the better demographic appeal. His name recognition is also spread across the most populous parts of the Congressional district. Tomlinson was last rated A-, and he did take a walk from us once on the issue of reciprocity a few years ago. As a consequence, he lost his endorsement and came back around on the major recent votes to earn back an endorsement. Tomlinson also won in 2014 after a big “war on women” attack in a Democratic area, so that’s a plus.
Does anyone else have any known open seat issues where there’s a not unreasonable chance that the seat will flip from (reasonably) pro-gun to an extreme anti-gun fringe candidate? Are you already looking around the political field for candidates to help early in the race?
Jan 8, 2015
The best Attorney General that Mike Bloomberg’s money could buy is facing possible criminal charges at the recommendation of a grand jury. According to sources, they are recommending perjury and contempt of court for her role in leaking confidential grand jury materials to the press in order to embarrass opponents.
I’ll stick by the argument that the frequently GOP-leaning voters in the middle of the state who valued their football program over their gun rights and the rule of law are the ones responsible for sending her in on a wave election.