Currently Browsing: Pennsylvania
Jun 25, 2015
While the news today is going to be all King v. Burwell, I’m sorry to report some more bad news on the gun front. Act 192 has had a short but glorious run, having briefly given teeth to the preemption law passed in 1974. But now Commonwealth Court has ruled that the law violates Pennsylvania’s “single subject” requirement for bills. No word yet on appeal. A few things should be noted.
- Preemption is still the law in Pennsylvania, just as it has been for 41 years. If you’re busted under a local gun control ordinance, those ordinances are still unlawful. You can challenge them and win. The difference now is it will probably take being charged to have standing to win.
- The law did a lot of legwork in convincing many local communities to repeal their illegal ordinances. This erased a lot of effort the other side put into passing them. I doubt very many of those communities will re-pass their repealed ordinances. We have to keep an eye out though.
- Stu Greenleaf bears a significant part of the responsibility for having to attach Act 192 to a metal theft bill at the last minute. He controls the Senate Judiciary Committee these types of bills have to clear through before hitting the floor. The GOP has a 30-20 majority in the Senate. To be honest, I’m thinking about donating money to Greenleafs Dem opponent, even if his opponent is a nut, just to get Greenleaf out of the Senate and to put the Judiciary Committee into more reliable hands.
The real loss here is that the cities that fought may now get their lawsuits dismissed. As long as Tom Wolf is Governor, the only possibility we have for getting this passed again is a veto override,
and last time we didn’t have quite enough to accomplish that. [UPDATE: A reader corrects me, and it did pass with a veto-proof margin last time.] Also note that Greenleaf still controls Judiciary, so there’s that issue too. It will continue to be difficult to get pro-gun legislation advanced so long as he is controlling that key committee.
Jun 18, 2015
In most states, such headlines aren’t often about search warrants issued against your own Attorney General. In Pennsylvania, it’s the new normal after Mike Bloomberg bought us a new Attorney General who has seemingly decided that laws on leaking confidential materials to the press don’t apply to her.
Of course, I also have to thank the good voters who backed her because their loyalty to Penn State without taking into account her position on gun rights or even whether she would be competent.
Jun 16, 2015
Introduction (By Sebastian). I’ve decided that since I’m having more spouts where I’m unbelievably busy these days, I would start taking guests posts from readers who had some writing skills and something to say. If you’d like to take a stab at your own guest post, contact me via e-mail (address on the sidebar) and tell me a bit about what you want to write. We can do submissions anonymously, or with credit. Your choice. This article is from a reader who asked to remain anonymous.
We recently had a chance to look at CeasefirePA’s financials. The only conclusion you can draw from them is that CeasefirePA is not nearly as mainstream or well supported as they would have anyone think.
Every non-profit is required to file an IRS Form 990 and to make that form available for inspection. Many can be found on the Internet at sites like www.charitynavigator.com or www.guidestar.com.
CeasefirePA, dutifully filed its forms and we got copies of their filings from 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Like the NRA, CeasefirePA has two different entities, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is also a charity (to which contributions are tax deductible) and a 501(c)(4) political entity (to which contributions are not tax deductible).
According to CeasefirePA’s 2013 Form 990, their Education Fund – their charity – received 605 individual donations totaling $71,000 in all of calendar year 2012.
By comparison, in that same year, NRA had nearly 200,000 paid members in PA.
To understand how much bigger NRA is in PA alone, Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia once held 71,000 people. Lincoln Financial Field holds 69,000 people. The Wells Fargo Center holds 20,000 people for basketball. Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies play holds 43,500 people. NRA’s paid Pennsylvania membership could simultaneously fill all of these facilities to capacity while CeasefirePA’s 2012 paid membership could barely fill your local Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
Collectively, in 2012, CeasefirePA’s board raised $3,000 – a pittance for a board. Most of the rest of their funding (then and now) comes from liberal foundation grants (Heinz, Joyce, William Penn).
In more recent years, they have raised more from their board, but still nothing compared to NRA.
Fast forwarding to calendar year 2013, CeasefirePA reported that they received donations from 766 people totaling $58,280. That’s 161 more people than in 2012. In total. Across the Commonwealth. That’s nearly 2.5 new supporters per county in PA or .79 new paid members per PA General Assembly House District. Way to go! Literally.
In their Form 990s, CeasefirePA tries to make up for this pitiful number of paid members by talking about how many people they send e-mails to – 30,000. Even there, however, NRA’s efforts swamp CeasefirePA’s.
In the 2012 election cycle NRA’s political arm (NRA-ILA) dropped a 715,000 person mailing – physical pieces of mail – to support gun friendly candidates. That mailing reached about 8.5% of the Commonwealth’s 2012 registered voters. And that was just one of the NRA’s activities in Pennsylvania that year.
Next time you meet one of your state legislators, ask them whether they’d rather side with the 766 or the 200,000.
Jun 16, 2015
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives are debating allowing the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting. We are the only state left in the United States that does not allow hunting with semi-automatics. If I were to take up hunting, I’d have to resort to an old military bolt action with open sights. I don’t actually own a scoped bolt gun, muzzleloader, or shotgun capable of firing slugs. Now I’m assuming this bill will only legalize semi-autos where it’s legal to hunt with rifles (around here in the Southeast, it’s mostly limited to shotguns (which ironically can be semi-auto), muzzleloaders, and bows).
It looks like there’s two competing bills. It would seem one bill would allow the use of .223 for hunting coyotes, with six rounds allowed in the magazine while hunting, while the competing bill would allow five rounds, but doesn’t mention species or caliber. Given the increasing problems with coyotes, either bill strikes me as a welcome thing for people living in the more rural parts of the Commonwealth.
I don’t think the Senate should be as much trouble as it has been with our bills last session. Where we had trouble previously is with Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Greenleaf, a C- rated Republican from Montgomery County, bottling up our bills. Since this is a hunting bill, it would go through the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which is Chaired by Senator Scavello, who has an A rating and was endorsed by NRA in his last election. Even the minority chair on that committee, Senator Brewster, is A rated and was endorsed in his last election. If we can get this bill to the floor in the Senate, we’ll pass it. The elephant in the room with moving this bill forward is whether we can score a signature from Governor Wolf. Wolf might not want to upset hunters, but so far I he has not impressed me with his political acumen. It’s a good bill to send him, since it’ll make him put his cards on the table.
Jun 8, 2015
The nomination for the
Police State, I mean State Police, Commissioner has been recalled as of this morning. It looks like it’s a good news/bad news scenario.
Marcus Brown will continue as Acting Commissioner, giving him the ability to continue to abuse his power violating the rights of Pennsylvanians to criticize him and his decision relating to his office. Brown has a history of publicly backing Martin O’Malley’s extreme gun control proposals. The agency he ran in Maryland was accused of targeting gun owners to find any reason to pull them over and search them. The bad news is that he is free to continue these practices (those documented on video and alleged) here in Pennsylvania for the moment.
The good news is that the Pennsylvania Senate has to formally accept the recall, and they have indicated they will not unless Gov. Tom Wolf agrees to nominate someone else. That would get Brown out of the office, and may we’d be lucky enough that he’ll leave Pennsylvania. The flip side of that coin is that anyone nominated by Wolf is unlikely to be friendly to Second Amendment rights.
UPDATE: And that didn’t go well for Wolf… The Senate moved forward with a vote regardless of the recall request and voted Marcus Brown down. That’s good news for those of us who have a little respect for the rule of law.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the process is now that Brown has officially been turned down by the Senate. I would hope it means he’s hauled out of his office as Acting Commissioner right now, but I realize that’s a bit of hopeful thinking.
Apr 21, 2015
It seems that Mike Bloomberg’s gun control cash can’t buy PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s way out of more legal drama.
Kane is being sued by a former agent from her office because he says she fabricated a story about him, claiming that he says his sting was only targeting black people. He claims that he never said that, and he says it seriously harmed his reputation as an investigator. He even took a polygraph test that he says he passed.
In fact, the story highlights that Kane claims she had a sworn statement by the agent’s boss that the agent suing her did say it. The problem is that there was no sworn statement. There was an unsworn statement (aka no legal accountability if they prove the boss lied) written more than a year after the supposed racial comment. To top that off, it was only written after Kane made her public claim. In other words, Kane made the claim that the agent with 20 years on the job made a statement. Then, four days after she issued the public attack, the agent’s boss magically writes up a statement fitting the narrative Kane told the media.
This woman is not just incompetent, she belongs in jail. It seems a grand jury agrees with me on the issue of criminal charges in another matter. Even the outlets that endorsed her think it’s time for her to get out of the office. Of course, I’m surprised she hasn’t put a fat target on the media since she already hinted she would sue them for reporting on her many ethical problems.
Remember folks, this woman won partly due to the huge financial investment made by Mike Bloomberg specifically because her views on gun control. She has repeatedly screwed with our reciprocity agreements, and she started lobbying against federal pro-gun bills before she even took office. But, hey, all those voters in the traditionally Republican parts of Pennsylvania felt like a vote for her was a vote for Penn State. No, it was a vote for corruption and abuse that not even the Philadelphia media can tolerate.
Apr 17, 2015
Yesterday, a Pennsylvania Court heard the case challenging the constitutionality of Act 192, the enhanced preemption law. Pennsylvania’s constitution has a single subject requirement for bills, and the preemption enhancement was attached to a bill about metal theft.
Even if this law is invalidated, preemption still remains the law of the land, and Act 192 still has done a lot of heavy lifting in getting municipalities to repeal illegal ordinances. Even if the act is ruled unconstitutional, it has been a major setback for Bloomberg to bet set so far back in his campaign to end preemption in Pennsylvania.
Apr 3, 2015
Not even Bloomberg’s riches could cushion Kathleen Kane’s fall from grace. The Philadelphia Inquirer has a scathing call for her to resign.
They highlight that it has recently come out that she personally intervened to revoke subpoenas for men with apparent ties to the mob, and then got a $25k political donation out of it. She did eventually decide that maybe she should return it, but it’s clear they assumed she should be “rewarded” for her effort derailing the corruption investigation.
As a close Clinton ally, I’m sure that we’ll soon hear the claim that this is all part of War on Women and that it’s clearly only because she’s attractive. There’s just no way that anyone could think she’s incompetent based on the fact that she’s looking at potential criminal charges for her actions in office and is now tied to two cases of stepping in to derail corruption investigations into political allies. Clearly, it’s just because she’s a woman. /sarcasm
Mar 19, 2015
If you just claim that it’s “for the children,” our new Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner (an import from Maryland) seems to argue that theft is okay – especially if you’re stealing from those who criticize you in your official role as a public servant.
Marcus Brown is facing opposition for appearing in uniform that creates the perception he graduated from the state police academy, which he did not. When a critic had signs printed pointing out that he shouldn’t wear such things that he did not earn and legally placed them on a public area, Brown apparently decided to steal them in the name of “[his] children” since their bus stop is nearby.
Now, stealing someone else’s signs from a public area is a crime. You’d think that means Brown would be apologetic for getting caught on video committing this crime, but he’s standing by his theft proudly – behind the back of the spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police.
I’ll be honest, if I lived out there, I’d be very tempted to have signs made up that say “Marcus Brown Stop Stealing Signs,” “Marcus Brown Stop Trying to Silence Critics,” and “Marcus Brown The First Amendment Applies in Pennsylvania, Too” and plaster them all over public areas to the degree allowed by law. There wouldn’t be a corner he could turn where he wouldn’t be reminded that Pennsylvanians value their freedom of speech and ability to speak their mind on what public officials are doing with their office.
Funny enough, the video that captures him stealing the signs in the name of “safety” for his children shows him leaving up non-critical signs in the same spot. It’s pretty clear he’s abusing the right of those who disagree with him and there is no safety issue involved. The video makes it appear that he singled out their message to be silenced based on the content critical of him and he now admits to taking the sign. Perhaps his stationary order got mixed up and he thought that being in charge of the Pennsylvania State Police was being charged with overseeing the Police State of Pennsylvania.
Mar 9, 2015
I congratulate Christine Vendel of PennLive for finally noticing something we’ve been screaming about for quite some time: that all towns claiming the sky was falling, and they needed a “lost and stolen” law to combat illegal firearms trafficking, were completely full of shit. The article acknowledges there is no enforcement, which we’ve also been blowing the whistle on to no avail.
This was never the problem our opponents claimed it to be, and now they are incredulously claiming, “It’s not measured by the number of fines. It’s measured by compliance.” So everyone who’s trafficking guns to criminals is just magically obeying the new law? This so laughably lacks credibility, it’s hard to believe they would even try to throw that turd at the wall.
This was never about stopping illegal trafficking. The goal was to weaken state preemption by pushing a non-issue that would easily pass in a number of towns. It was preemption they were after. So how did it work out for them?
The end result is Act 192, which strengthened the preemption law.