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The PA Supreme Court Controversy

Ace has a pretty decent write-up on the controversy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court surrounding Justice Seamus McCaffery, who got in trouble for sending around raunchy e-mails on state computers. Apparently Justice McCaffery and the Chief Justice Castille don’t get along too well with each other. At the end, Ace notes:

Philadelphia Magazine says the war is partly about the power to supervise all of Pennsylvania’s state courts — power Castille doesn’t trust McCaffery with.

I don’t really have much of an opinion on the controversy, and perhaps Chief Justice Castille has legitimate reasons to be worried about Justice McCaffery. But I should note there’s a gun angle to this, in that Justice McCaffery is friendly to the Second Amendment, and Chief Justice Castille, a former Philadelphia District Attorney, has not been.

Supreme Court justices are elected in Pennsylvania, and McCaffery has carried an NRA Endorsement, and has spoken NRA Annual Firearms Law Seminar. I thought his talks were entertaining and funny, as Supreme Court justice presentations go.

Educating Our Opponents

It would appear that Pennsylvania gun owners may need to work a little harder to educate our opponents.

I don’t mean that we need to educate them on how firearms actually work or on the historical lessons of the Second Amendment – they’ll never listen to those messages.

What our opponents need is a return to elementary school spelling classes, perhaps with a mix of middle school civics to supplement their lessons.


This tweet, with the creative spelling of amendment, went out to at least 26 Senators. I get that typos happen (don’t even get me started on how many people I see who add an extra ‘m’ to the word), but in a call to action tweet sent from a professionally staffed organization to over one half of the members of a legislative body, that’s a pretty sad mistake.

I hope that people on our side of the issue will remember to double check your tweets and messages before you start writing to lawmakers.

Possible Germaneness Issue in Preemption Bill?

Unlike the federal government, but like many other states, Pennsylvania’s constitution has a germaneness requirement for bill amendments. Article III, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

No bill shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except a general appropriation bill or a bill codifying or compiling the law or a part thereof.

My concern about the addition of A10397, the preemption enhancement,  to House Bill 80 is that H.B. 80 is about metal theft. That would seem to violate the germaneness requirement. Now, I suspect, though I’m not certain, that because the Senate attached this amendment to a House Bill, that it will go to conference, and the House can strip out the metal theft language and essentially make H.B. 80 a preemption bill only. If the legislature is intent on having a metal theft bill, they can always pass it later with a different bill number, or in a different session. But I do still believe there is a way to save the preemption enhancement on the germaneness issue.

We are, however, getting really close to the election, and this also could have been a last ditch effort for lawmakers to get on record so NRA’s lobbyist will release their grades. I’m not sure what there’s time to do or not. It’s looking like Corbett is going to be toast, and I think it’s a safe bet Tom Wolf will veto the measure. But Corbett will still be able to sign as a lame duck. To me the important thing is we get this done.

BTW, the pigeon shooting ban passed the Senate 3 to 1. NRA is opposing the pigeon shooting ban, but I personally think they are fighting a losing battle on that topic. Wayne Pacelle, head of the phoney-baloney Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is no doubt pleased, even if it still has an uphill climb in the House. If you think those people are going to stop with pigeon shooting, you’re a fool. HSUS is an anti-hunting group, and any victory they get is a step closer to their goal of ending hunting. Unlike the anti-gun groups, they are very well funded, and have a highly motivated, rabid, and broad base of grassroots activists. That’s one reason I believe that, long term, hunting in the United States is probably doomed if trends among hunters keeps going the way it’s going. The time to stop arguing about what hunting is, and stand together, was yesterday.

PA Senate Finally Votes on Guns

If you’re a Pennsylvania gun owner, you can blame your state senator for the lack of action on pro-gun bills in this state. (Well, unless you live in Sen. Rich Alloway‘s district since he’s the only one willing to actually show any leadership.) If you live in the Philly suburbs under Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, you can definitely blame him for doing his best to make sure that pro-gun bills don’t see the light of day in the Judiciary Committee.

However, last night, Sen. Alloway finally got a vote on the preemption bill as an amendment straight from the floor. (Oddly, if you look at NRA’s latest alert – and even an email I got from a staffer this morning – they say that no vote happened. It’s time to update the website, folks!) Preemption passed the Senate on a 2-1 vote in our favor! Or, at least it passed the first vote to be added to a bill. Now that bill needs to pass.

Now, just to seal up his credentials as going farther anti-gun, Sen. Greenleaf, who used to vote for gun owners many years ago, turned on us again in the vote. I guess bypassing his authority over Judiciary really pisses him off.

If you listen to the anti-gunners, the sky is falling. The ability to hold cities passing illegal gun control laws responsible in the courts is the worst thing ever. They are appalled that NRA members may be able to sue a city and the city might have to pay for the lawsuit if they lose because they were caught violating state laws. Accountability – the horrors!

This fight is clearly upsetting the anti-gun groups, too. One piece of literature they handed out tried to associate Pennsylvania NRA members with members of the KKK.

There’s still a few more steps for this bill to pass, but at least gun owners now have a vote from their Senators on these big issues.

Pennsylvania gun owners, if you wouldn’t mind, take a minute to drop a thank you message to Sen. Alloway. He’s actually a really nice guy, and he works incredibly hard for our rights while the rest of the Senate GOP is happy to sit back and hope you don’t notice that they aren’t actually doing anything to protect your rights. Here’s his website contact form, his Facebook page, and his Twitter profile.

State Rep Trades Gun Fire with Robber

During an attempted armed robbery on the streets of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Rep. Marty Flynn apparently pulled out his own gun and fired at the criminals.

Interestingly, Rep. Flynn refused to return an NRA questionnaire in 2012, so he was rated ?. On the only votes we’ve had recently, he did vote for strengthening preemption in HB 1243. He also voted against the private sale on long guns amendment.

Pennsylvania Preemption & Pigeons

I like alliteration, and it seems that the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee might, too. Word has been spreading that the Committee might actually meet to move a pro-gun bill today. Of course, it comes with a word of warning that they might try to move the pigeon shooting ban out, too.

The Senate GOP has been the blockade to pretty much everything in Pennsylvania the last few years. On the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Stewart Greenleaf, has an ever worsening NRA grade as he constantly blocks pro-gun bills with opening doors to poison pill amendments. If you believe in free market wine, you can thank Chuck McIlhinney for blocking privatization.

I’ll be honest, even with an election year, I didn’t think that preemption had any chance to move at all in the Senate given how much they have gotten in the way of other reforms on our issue and others in the last couple of years. This is great news, and I’ll be calling my non-Judiciary Committee senator to let him know that if he wants my help this year, there better be a vote. I know my senator needs visible support from women based on the ads he’s running. I’m going to let him know that I’m happy to help, but only if there’s a vote and he votes for stronger preemption. Play the cards you’ve got – and helping a campaign is something everyone can do.

“Temporary Intrusion” of the First Amendment

The Express-Times in Lehigh Valley area decided to attack those concerned about potential constitutional violations in an op-ed, saying that those who have had their rights violated and want to stand up for them are merely “opportunistic” and too concerned with themselves to put up with a “temporary intrusion” that has lasted at least a week.

They even highlight a quote from the Pennsylvania State Police’s PR guy that assures us that not all people are completely cut off from their homes. Citizens can trust that if the police think you actually have a good reason to go to your home, then they will be the ones to decide if/when you get access, and only under escort if they like your reasons for wanting to go home.

So, I’d like to know how the Express-Times staff would react to the news that the state police argue that their coverage of the events is helping the suspect evade law enforcement. Sure, they have no actual evidence that the suspect has access to their papers, but it’s a possibility that he might be in the area and using the resources to evade them – like he might possibly be hiding out in every single car in the area or every home in the area.

Therefore, the police ask that the Express-Times stop publishing their paper during this “temporary intrusion” and that any efforts to argue that they have a First Amendment right that must be respected is a case of them being “opportunistic” and overly greedy with their Constitution rights claims.

Some public relations officer will remind their editors that they aren’t really blocking all access to their publishing equipment – because if the police determine there’s any message worth hearing, then they will provide an armed escort to any reporter or editor they hand select to supervise their limited visit to the printer.

I find it hard to believe that the Express-Times staff wouldn’t be on the phone to lawyers trying to argue for their Constitutional rights. Why are they condemning anyone else who is concerned that in specific instances, perhaps law enforcement have gone too far and actually crossed the line into violating someone’s rights?

According to another report on the situation, attorney Josh Prince has already talked to someone who was forced out of their home, despite having three dogs there, and has been refused access to care for them since Sunday. It was Tuesday when that story was posted. The New York Times found a man who was thrown to the ground and detained in handcuffs just for going to his own home.

Regardless of what the public relations officer is telling the media, it’s clear that there are reports from those forced to leave that the police are keeping people away from their homes. If they aren’t keeping them away from their homes, it’s clear that at least some officers have gotten a little too quick to act against local citizens. Any lawyer who is helping someone understand their rights – and whether or not they have been violated – should be applauded.

Pennsylvania Pre-Emption Became a Gun Control Battle

There were dueling amendments proposed in the Pennsylvania House this week, and yesterday afternoon, the votes came down.

Gun owners should definitely say a word of thanks to the state representatives who voted to support pre-emption reforms and thanks to those who voted against the Bloomberg-backed effort to add more restrictions (and expenses) to long gun sales. In fact, an election year is a great time to remind our lawmakers that we’re watching their votes. Even better, if they voted with us on the bills, track down their campaign and get a yard sign or volunteer to lend a hand. That’s a huge thank you that will be remembered.

NRA is asking folks to pester their senators about getting this bill moving in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The Best Article on the Yeadon Doctor Shooting

Many of you have probably read the story that broke yesterday evening about the doctor who saved his life and is credited with saving numerous others by pulling out his own legally carried firearm and shooting a mental patient who had just shot his caseworker and tried to shoot the doctor. But I have to say for a case that’s still unfolding today, the Daily News has probably the best story I’ve seen on the situation and people involved.

They highlight that the shooter was known as a threat to himself and others, having been involuntarily committed by his local police department two times in the last 5 years and has a known criminal history of firearm and drug offenses. It will be interesting to see if he stole the firearm he used given that he does have a history that includes robbing a bank, according to their research.

They tracked down neighbors at his last known address and none of them were remotely shocked. They said he was clearly deeply troubled, and a friend of an ex-girlfriend of the shooter even said that the guy was a heavy, heavy drug user and claimed he got violent with the girlfriend and kicked her in the stomach while she was known to be pregnant.

In other words, this is a violent, drug addicted mentally ill person who, while in “care,” was allowed to roam the streets and continue committing crimes up until he murdered a woman who was trying to help him in cold blood and tried to take out the doctor, too. The police chief stated that he believes the shooter would not have stopped with the people in the room, and he credits the doctor with keeping the tragedy from turning into a mass shooting.

The shooter was clearly prohibited from possessing firearms, and Pennsylvania already has mandatory background checks on private sales of handguns. You’d think this would make it clear to the other side that the problem lies with our mental health and legal systems. But, no, they still blame the gun even though one in the hands of a lawful owner helped save lives.

Responding to Parking Lot Law Critics

Pennsylvania is pushing a parking lot law to protect employees who carry and lock their firearms in their cars while at work, and at least one newspaper editorial writer isn’t too happy with it. Rather than ignoring it, the primary sponsor, Sen. Rich Alloway, is responding directly to the criticism.

Currently, many of our friends and neighbors risk losing their jobs by carrying their firearm with them in their vehicle on their way to work. Twenty-three states have already enacted laws to protect their citizens from losing their jobs, and Pennsylvania should join them.

Today, daily commutes are punctuated by short errands.

Whether at the dry cleaners or at the grocery store, headlines remind us that crime can, and does happen anywhere. Furthermore, many work shifts are during non-traditional hours, when crimes are potentially more likely to occur.

Mr. Major dismisses these concerns as “What if factors” that needlessly frighten people. The irony is that his newspaper is regularly reporting violent crimes, that clearly demonstrate that sometimes the “What if’s” do occur.

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