Before the 2014 election season truly kicks into high gear in Pennsylvania, at least I have a little hope for the state with two little bits of information.
The big one is that Virginia just overcame the hardest vote to end the ban on Sunday hunting. There’s still a Senate vote to go, but it has passed in that chamber before. If Virginia can do it after years of arguing, then hopefully Pennsylvania can, too. Perhaps opponents will see that the sky won’t fall, just as it hasn’t in the vast majority of states that allow hunting on Sunday, and reason will prevail.
The second item is a bit of an election year kissing babies moment, but it was announced today that Gov. Tom Corbett is going to attend the NRA Friends dinner that will be held in conjunction with the new sportsman’s show in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania gun owners who appreciate our commonwealth’s laws over places like New York, Maryland, and Connecticut should really help out in a big, big way this year. Gov. Corbett came out firmly against gun bans when the press was pushing him hard to make a call for gun control, and he did it early enough that it shut down any major threat from the legislature.
Mayor Bob McMahon, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and a Vietnam veteran, said he’d had “a lot of involvement” with assault weapons. He said he saw no reason for their use other than for military purposes.
“A message has to be sent. I’m strongly in support of this resolution,” said McMahon.
I think it’s time for gun owners to send a message to Mayor McMahon. The next meeting is the 20th. If there are any gun owners in Media, it would be advisable to make a showing and make your voice heard! It’s like playing whack-a-mole. You have to keep whacking when the gopher pops up or you lose.
Imagine a situation where an armed robber breaks into your home, but maybe you do or don’t have a means to defend yourself. What you do have is a phone with access to 911, and let us pretend for a moment that the local cops can get there in time to save you. What would keep you from using the phone in that situation?
Well, thanks to the efforts of Bloomberg-ally and MAIG Mayor Tom Leighton, you might lose your home if you call the police. You may face permanent eviction if you dare call the police while in danger. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck and can’t afford another place to live, then maybe you hide in the closet and hope for the best instead of calling the police.
See, this MAIG mayor has instituted a “one-strike ordinance” that allows his city to shut down any property for up to six months (without a hearing or notice) if the property is ever the site of a single gun or drug crime.
Another town instituted a similar rule that, instead of shutting down a property, fines the landlords as punishment, and a victim of domestic violence was threatened with eviction after the police were called to help her. When the boyfriend showed up again and stabbed her in the neck, she was too fearful of losing a roof over her young daughter’s head to call the police. Even as she was bleeding from her wounds, she pleaded with her neighbors not to call the police on her attacker because she and her daughter would be the ones punished and left without a home.
That case has resulted in litigation, and despite seeing the impact of this rule on a domestic violence victim, MAIG Mayor Leighton stands by using the one-strike ordinance, even if the ultimate result is to punish the poor for calling police when trouble lurks in their neighborhoods.
By supporting efforts to disarm citizens, Leighton forces them to rely on police. Now he’s punishing those who do rely on the police and who cannot afford to move if their landlords evict them because they dared call the police while in danger.
From the various reports, it apparently started when a citizen sitting in a public area of the public office recorded a conversation between the Sheriff and a Constable that revealed he was undercharging for permits for selected people. The recording became public, and the Sheriff’s first response appears to have been to call the District Attorney and demand that there be an investigation for violation of the wiretap laws and leaking of confidential information rather than address the real problem of using licenses to carry in this manner and possibly shorting the county its share of fees.
It turns out that the DA found there was zero expectation of privacy between the individuals given their roles as public officials and where they had their conversation, and nothing confidential was leaked. So, the Sheriff now appears to claim that it was all above board because he was purposefully handing out the licenses in order to see if one of his secretaries who had recently filed a grievance against the office was leaking information. However, the person who benefited with the discounted license was apparently never informed prior to the event that he was part of such a plot and had to pay up later. Needless to say, there are people who doubt the after-the-fact claims of a secret investigation.
It appears the DA has turned the evidence related to the issuance of discounted licenses to carry over to state authorities, and a source tells the local paper that a grand jury has been called related to some sort of investigation into the Sheriff’s office.
They also report that the state Auditor General’s office found the Sheriff may not be charging the appropriate fees mandated by the state for carry licenses or writs of execution, which now means the County Controller is also investigating.
It’s very odd, indeed. Even if the licenses are being issued according to the law in regards to background checks, it is very troubling to hear that there are concerns that discounts and freebies are being used to benefit political supporters while those who aren’t so well-connected are forced to pay the higher, state-mandated price.
Hey, he was just a family man, you know, a family man that went around robbing people. If you don’t want to risk getting shot by someone in self-defense, there is an easy solution. Don’t rob people. Robbing people is wrong, and a person is within his right to defend himself against someone pointing a deadly weapon at them and threatening their lives. It’s amazing there are people in society who need to be told this. But he was just doing it to pay back child support!
Unfortunately, the two Supreme Court justices who did not deserve retention were retained. However, with 99% of state precincts reporting, the favored judge of Superior Court won, Vic Stabile.
Locally, our elections were a mixed bag. On the one hand, the lesser of two evils won the county-wide offices. However, a MAIG mayor managed to retain his seat by a stinking 8 votes.
This is why gun owners need to at least look at what’s happening right in their backyards. I’m not saying you need to track every little borough happening or know every little piddly fight going on between township and county or whatnot. As I told folks yesterday, simply look up the page to see if your mayor is in MAIG. If s/he is, vote for the opponent. It’s a simple strategy. In Pennsylvania, mayors aren’t legally allowed to make gun policies, so you don’t need a “pure” candidate, just send a message by voting people out if they back Bloomberg.
Unlike many states, Pennsylvania gun owners actually have a method to send a direct message to the judicial branch about their views on how judges might be doing at either upholding or uprooting our rights to keep and bear arms.
Pennsylvania does a range of judicial elections – outright partisan competitive elections at some levels and during some years, and then retention elections (simple, is this person doing a good enough job to remain on the bench vote) for some levels of the court. There are perks and drawbacks to such a system, but it is our system. That means we gun owners should participate.
Tomorrow is Election Day, and the only offices on the ballot are local, county, and judicial. It means that turnout will be ridiculously low. Gun owners need to be concerned since we just had an elected judge make a completely new interpretation of our concealed carry laws that made any Pennsylvania resident carrying on an out-of-state license a criminal.
In fact, two Supreme Court justices are up for a retention vote tomorrow. One of them, Chief Justice Ron Castille, wrote the opinion that has opened the door to redefine Pennsylvania’s self-defense standard from one which requires the state to disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, to one where the defendant has to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This would essentially shift the burden from the state to the defendant. If gun owners think this is a bad idea, then vote against retention.
Gun owners aren’t the only interest group that should be looking more to the courts as voters. A Tea Party group is also encouraging voters to vote against retention of both justices up tomorrow. Whatever you think about their views on whatever it is that’s irking them is irrelevant, what it presents is an opportunity to see that Castille is especially weak.
This isn’t the only time in recent months that gun owners have needed to wake up to judicial elections. In Erie, there’s a low level judge who just blatantly ignored the state’s preemption law. This is a situation that can easily be solved at the ballot box, and the message will spread to other judges.
Unfortunately, of all the bad rulings issued for gun owners lately, Chief Justice Castille is the only one facing an immediate election. However, he can be sent home. We should take the opportunity to help him enjoy his retirement a little earlier than he expected. (He actually faces mandatory retirement next year, so it’s pretty pointless to keep him on the court. Unfortunately, he is fighting that mandatory retirement. Though he can’t fight a voter-mandated retirement.)
In Pennsylvania Superior Court, the case is Commonwealth v. McKown. The court rules that Pennsylvania residents are required to have a license to carry issued by Pennsylvania, and that residents cannot lawfully carry on licenses issued by foreign jurisdictions, even if reciprocity exists. What’s the court’s reasoning? Because the law says anyone wishing to carry a concealed firearm must apply to his or her sheriff (or Chief of Police for Philadelphia) for a license, which implies that the legislature intended Pennsylvania residents to have Pennsylvania license. This means if you’re a Pennsylvania resident, and are carrying on the license of another state, you are breaking the law. This is a very odd reading of the statute in question, and took quite a stretch, I think, for the court to reach. And if that’s not enough, the “constitutional and criminal law frontiersman” raised Second Amendment claims too.
We point out that neither the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, nor the Pennsylvania Constitution, bestows on any person the right to carry a concealed firearm or transport a loaded firearm in a vehicle. As noted above, the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute, and governmental restrictions on possession of firearms are permitted. Heller, 554 U.S. at 626-627. Here, the statute in question, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106, while falling within the scope of the Second Amendment, merely restricts hidden guns and the transport of loaded guns by those persons who do not have a license. We discern no error in the trial court’s conclusion that, under intermediate scrutiny, section 6106 does not violate the Second Amendment or the Pennsylvania Constitution …
… Pursuant to these police powers, we conclude that 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106 serves to protect the public from persons who would carry concealed firearms for unlawful purposes. This is an important governmental interest, and section 6106 is substantially related to the achievement of that objective. Thus, we discern no error in the trial court’s conclusion that section 6106 does not violate the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Well, glad to see that went over so well. But wait, we’re not done yet. He also raised the claim that the Sheriff abused his discretion under the character and reputation law:
Sheriff Nau explained Appellant’s license had been revoked after he struck a person while highly intoxicated. N.T., Sentencing, 9/1/11, at 40. Sheriff Nau also testified that, had Appellant applied to have his license reinstated, he (Sheriff Nau) would have denied the request. Id. at 41. Despite Appellant’s letters in support of his good reputation, we discern no error in the trial court’s conclusion that, based on Appellant’s prior behavior and the testimony of Sheriff Nau, Appellant was not otherwise eligible for a license. Thus, there was no error in the grading of the charge.
So basically the eligibility protection to avoid sentencing enhancement is meaningless if the Sheriff can provide testimony he would have denied your application had you applied. Thanks to this “constitutional and criminal law frontiersman,” the rest of us get to enjoy the train wreck he just created. This train wreck is also brought to you by the Allegheny County Republican Party, who floated the judge who wrote this opinion. She’s not up for recall until 2017 too. The concurring judge is filling in a vacancy, but is a Philadelphia Republican as well. Also, I’d note that you know things are going to go pear shaped when a Court feels the need to say something like this in a footnote:
1 We note with displeasure that Appellant’s brief contains single-spaced text in violation of Pa.R.A.P. 124(a)(3). The trial court cautioned Appellant on this failure as well, and it admonished counsel to double space the text in his filings. Commonwealth v. McKown, 9 Pa. D. & C. 5th 183 (C.P. Centre 2009).
But he’s a frontiersman! Folks, if you’re going to challenge laws, hire a competent attorney. The rest of us have to live with the decisions of judges when you challenge the law without a workable plan and without the necessary skills, so please, don’t do it.
“Please note I very much support the second amendment where people have the right to keep and bear arms from impingement,” he wrote. “I also believe that we need tougher gun control laws. Since owning a fire arm (sic) is a privilege, I believe the people who want a permit will pay for it even at a higher rate.”
You support the Second Amendment, but owning a firearm os a privilege? It’s like they are parrots who just mimic the words and have no idea what they are saying. The really sad part is that, as best as I’ve been able to tell, Councilman Morelli’s views on the Second Amendment have the full support of our nation’s court system.