Currently Browsing: Pennsylvania

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.

The Dreaded Pigeon Shoot Ban

When anti-gun lawmakers in Pennsylvania want to derail a pro-Second Amendment bill, the first amendment they usually reach for is a ban on pigeon shooting. The ban is opposed by NRA, but they know they can pull a few lawmakers off from the coalition who will vote in favor of the ban. It’s basically their own little poison pill amendment.

Well, it looks like the sponsors finally decided to attach it to a non-gun bill today. If it hasn’t already happened, then it’s expected to get a vote today as an amendment on a bill that bans the consumption of cats and dogs. I don’t see any votes on the Senate Judiciary website for an amendment, nor do I see any amendments from the Senate on the bill history page.

It will be an interesting issue if this does end up going to a vote on a non-gun bill. It takes one of the biggest tools of the anti-gunners off of the table for stalling future pro-rights legislation. That’s typically a good thing. It’s an issue where I don’t think the activity should be banned, but the fact is that it’s an uphill climb to defeat the ban every time it comes up. I really hate the idea of throwing any member of the shooting community under the bus, but I’m also kind of tired of seeing everything else sidelined because of this one issue.

We’ll see how it works out – if it’s going to be a continuing issue for gun bills or if it was pulled from the calendar again.

Pennsylvania Gets a Gun

Or, rather, we’ll get our official state firearm soon according to pro-gun attorney Josh Prince who reports that the Governor is expected to sign the bill designating the Pennsylvania Long Rifle as the state gun. We previously covered the bill here, including the fact that it’s pissing off the anti-gunners.

Allyson Schwartz’s Bad Night – A PA Primary Round-Up

Yesterday was primary day in Pennsylvania, and the big race to watch was to see how the Democratic primaries shaped up since those were the main contested races. NRA also offered a few endorsements, so we’ll look at how things shaped up.

Governor’s Race
I can report with 100% certainty that Tom will win the gubernatorial election in November. Unfortunately, we don’t know which Tom – Corbett or Wolf – it will be.

The biggest news from last night is just how terribly Rep. Allyson Schwartz did in an all-Democratic election. She was one who many people wondered if she would be a bit too liberal for a pretty purple state, but the Democratic voting base gave her an embarrassingly low second place finish last night – 40 points behind Tom Wolf. Instead, it turns out that she was ripped apart by progressives who were horrified by the fact that she has, at times in her nine year Congressional career, worked with moderate Democrats. Basically, the fact that she had a record to tear through worked against her.

For the gun issue, it’s not really good news or bad news. On one hand, the Democratic candidate with the lowest grade from Ceasefire won the primary. On the other hand, the entire pool of Democratic candidates for 2014 are far more hostile to our rights than the group in 2010.

Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate now, told Ceasefire that he supports their policy proposal “imposing a ban under Pennsylvania law on the sale and possession of assault weapons.” A ban on possession implies confiscation. That’s a big freaking problem there, beyond the ban on sales which is also a hugely unacceptable response.

Wolf also said he supported their idea to “imposing a limit under Pennsylvania law on magazine capacity” where they did highlight that restrictions on size vary, so that paves the way for a push to something like NY’s SAFE Act coming from a Wolf administration.

On carry, Wolf says he will oppose any form of national reciprocity, and he also added a response to congratulate Attorney General Kathleen Kane for screwing with Pennsylvania’s reciprocity agreements. Oddly enough, he didn’t back the push for an outright ban on all campus carry, and he only stated that he believes colleges must make their carry policies transparent.

Wolf also says that he wants a bill “requiring gun owners to keep firearms and ammunition in separate secure locations.” That box of ammo you keep in your range bag? That’s not secure. The shelf you might keep your ammo sorted on? That’s not secure. Oh, and you can’t just stuff it into your 800 pound gun safe bolted to your floor because your guns are in there and they must be secured separately. That’s fine, you say, because it’s not like they’ll send inspectors around for this stuff. Well, just hope you never have to call 911 for a medical emergency in your home or have a fire where public safety staff will enter your home and report whatever they see that may possibly be a violation. Tell Grandma that her ambulance for the stroke she’s having will have to wait because you need to run out to a gun shop and find a new locking case for that ammunition.

Needless to say, those gun owners are going to be given a pretty stark contrast this year at the polls.

Lt. Governor’s Race
Again, the only race here was on the Democratic side. However, there is some news to report on the gun issue. First, the NRA grades for each of the candidates were rather interesting. In Mark Critz you had a man who had an A+ in 2012 drop to a C for this primary race, but who also refused to respond to the CeasefirePA questionnaire. Then there was Rep. Brandon Neuman who actually has a current A rating who also refused to answer to Ceasefire. But the winner came from the three candidates who did respond to Ceasefire with a 100% rating.

Oddly, the winner, Sen. Mike Stack, made a very bizarre claim to Ceasefire: “The NRA has consistently given me a failing grade. I would be honored to have CeaseFirePA’s
endorsement in this election and will wear it like a badge of honor right next to my NRA ‘F.’” Um, he has always had a C-, not an F, so his statement is an outright lie. That grade is based on a voting record, too. Regardless, it’s clear that he wants gun owners to know that he’s got a giant target set on their backs.

Congressional Races
The other negative for Allyson Schwartz last night was that she was so confident in her status as a Democratic front-runner that she said she wouldn’t run again for her Congressional seat, but she would back a close supporter for the seat. That close supporter who also tried running on healthcare, Val Arkoosh, came in dead last in a four-way primary.

Perhaps the most interesting part for this solidly Democratic seat was that the so-called “liberal lion” of Pennsylvania politics came in a very close to last third place. The race really ended up being between Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law who the Clintons campaigned for and the winner, a state lawmaker who was attacked for backing some level of regulation for abortion clinics, especially in light of the Gosnell issues that happened right here in Pennsylvania.

However, it’s not like the winner is a friend of the Second Amendment, either. In his last state house run, he had a D+. One might expect that to drop to an F now that he’s in a solidly Democratic district and in need of a little extra cushion against the progressive wing of the party who has him in their sights.

NRA endorsed in this primary because of the incumbent rule, so it’s good to report that Rep. Bill Shuster won. The other two candidates had AQs, so it’s not like it would have gone into anti-gun hands if he hadn’t made it.

In our own Congressional district, there was a Democratic primary and the one who many would hope would bring the “War on Women” and “SCIENCE!” message to the race didn’t win. The winner, Kevin Strouse, wants the absolutely terrible Manchin-Toomey bill brought back up, and wants to “ban most ammunition—whether from handguns or rifles” that he arbitrarily decides defeats body armor. He offers no definitions of the terms he’s using, no context, just simply anything that police would support. The WaPo likes him because he has no record and is willing to speak in vague terms on the issue that leaves open the possibility of supporting quite extreme or complicated legislation that risks landing non-attorney gun owners trying to comply in jail.

The Democrats has a competition here between a man whose main hiccup with ethics was on using proper account funds to attend a Friends of the NRA banquet on behalf of his boss, former Rep. John Murtha, and a woman who has backed portions of Obama’s gun control agenda. Unfortunately, the most anti-gun candidate won the primary in this case. I don’t know what her final grade will be, as she has no previous record to run on. She’s challenging Rep. Keith Rothfus who will likely carry the NRA endorsement.

Other Races
NRA endorsed in only a handful of primaries this year, but they won almost all of them.

For voters in the 66th State House district, the new GOP nominee, Cris Dush refused to return a questionnaire based on the ? following the name and the endorsement to an opponent who wasn’t too far behind on votes. Dush claims that he supports the Second Amendment on his website, but voters should probably let him know that he should be willing to sign his name to some policy specifics.

On the bad news front, the most hostile Republican to the Second Amendment in 176th State House district in Monroe County has a 19 vote lead right now. The county claims that all precincts have reported, but I’m not aware if any absentee ballots have been counted yet. Unfortunately, Jack Rader, Jr. returned a questionnaire with a pretty dismal C- rating, and local GOP voters opted for him over a candidate with an A. I don’t know what the Democrat’s grade will look like, but hopefully gun owners in that district will find some kind of friend on the ballot.

In one five-way Republican primary for the 17th State House district, one of the losers was the only GOP candidate to refuse to answer a questionnaire. Unfortunately for voters in that area, both Democrats also refused to answer questionnaires. There was a similar outcome in the four-way GOP contest for 169th State House district with the only GOP candidate refusing a questionnaire losing.

Pennsylvania’s Marriage Law Overturned

This is somewhat outside the normal topic for this blog, but I felt I should note that a federal court tossed Pennsylvania’s marriage law that excluded gays. I agree with the end result, but I’m skeptical that having the courts implement gay marriage will be healthy for the Republic over the long run. But regardless of that, the best thing the PA GOP could do for its future is to decline to appeal this ruling.

Given that it’s an election year, I think the chances of Corbett declining to appeal are zero. He has too much trouble with his base in general to just walk away from this. But here’s what’s going to happen: at some point, the Appeals Court will probably overturn the District Court ruling, restoring Pennsylvania’s original marriage law. It might take getting to the Supreme Court for this to happen, but unless the Supreme Court changes in the next three years (for the sake of gun rights, pray that it does not) it’s likely this ruling gets overturned.

And then what? Well, you have a whole generation of young people out there willing to vote on the issue of gay marriage, and to whom it will become quickly apparent that the only way to get gay marriage in Pennsylvania legislatively is to end Republican control of the House, Senate and the Governor’s mansion. I said originally that this is somewhat off topic. When the Republicans eventually fall on the issue of gay marriage, our gun rights are likely to go right along with it. It sucks, and it’s unfair, but Millennials are going to vote on gay marriage over gun rights, and a lot of Gen Xers will too. This is a hopeless struggle the GOP would do better to just give up on.

Are There Grounds to Sue the Attorney General?

After doing a bit of research with the Wayback Machine, and reading over the letter Kane’s office sent to her counterpart in Utah, it looks like Kane actually revoked statutory recognition, rather than altering a reciprocity agreement. There are two ways to grant reciprocity under Pennsylvania law, the first is by formal agreement with the reciprocal state, and the second is by any state that both recognizes our LTC, and that “[t]he Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.”

Tom Corbett, who is now Governor, determined that both Idaho and Utah’s laws were substantially similar, and granted both Utah and Idaho statutory recognition. Along comes Bloomberg’s bought-and-paid-for Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, and without any change in either states law, she decided that because they issued to non-residents, they were not similar. It should be noted that Pennsylvania issues to non-residents as well, so this should not be a reason to deny statutory recognition under 18 Pa.C.S. 6106(b)(15). I would argue that the statute in question does not offer the Attorney General the power to deny or rescind recognition merely because she disagrees with policy, but requires her to articulate where the incompatibility lies.

The question then is, would this be actionable in court? I’d argue that she simply does not have any power, absent a change in the reciprocal state’s law, to rescind statutory reciprocity with another state merely over a political beef with the existing recognition? If this is not actionable in Court, then 18 Pa.C.S. 6106(b)(15) is essentially meaningless. In that case, we should remove the Attorney General’s discretion, and offer blanket recognition to any state that recognizes us, or even better, just recognize permits from any other state by statute.

Kathleen Kane Rescinds Utah Reciprocity

I don’t have a story to link to here, but it appears that Kathleen Kane’s office has quietly dumped our reciprocity agreement with the State of Utah. You will notice it is absent on the AG site, and if you look at handgun, it notes at the bottom that as of yesterday, “Pennsylvania NO Longer Honors Utah.” That she would do this quietly is unconscionable, because it makes it far more likely someone is going to end up in prison because they were unaware of the reciprocity change. This isn’t the first reciprocity agreement she has revoked. On July 29th of last year, the same day that Pennsylvania gained statutory reciprocity with Kansas, she rescinded our reciprocity agreement with Idaho.

The Attorney General’s office, under state law, has an duty to sign reciprocity agreements in 6109(k):

(k)  Reciprocity.–

(1)  The Attorney General shall have the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states providing for the mutual recognition of a license to carry a firearm issued by the Commonwealth and a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by the other state. To carry out this duty, the Attorney General is authorized to negotiate reciprocity agreements and grant recognition of a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by another state.

(2)  The Attorney General shall report to the General Assembly within 180 days of the effective date of this paragraph and annually thereafter concerning the agreements which have been consummated under this subsection.

I’d argue that concurrent with that duty is not to exit reciprocity agreements that have been negotiated under this subsection. I’d note that Pennsylvanians can still carry in Utah and Idaho, because those states honor any other state permit. But residents of Utah and Idaho may no longer lawfully carry in Pennsylvania. For residents of those states, I’m very sorry, but elections have consequences, and when we elect a Bloomberg-bought Attorney General, these are the wages.

I’d really like to see NRA put some legislative muscle into fixing this problem. First suggestion would be to blow up 6106(b)(15)(ii):

(15)  Any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state under section 6109(k), provided:

(i)  The state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under section 6109.

(ii)  The Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.

And by clarifying 6109(k) to make clear that the Attorney General may not revise or rescind existing agreements unless the reciprocal state requests it, or there has been a change in the reciprocal state’s statutory law. Most importantly, I think we all need to work to make sure Kathleen Kane becomes a one-term Attorney General.

UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the letter sent to Utah. I thought she had tweaked all the agreements with states that issued to non-residents so that PA would not recognize non-resident permits? Why suddenly get rid of the whole thing? Also, Superior Court has already ruled that PA residents must have a PA LTC to carry in PA. This is just a way to screw us and to please her patron Bloomberg, if you ask me.

New Search Rule in Pennsylvania

A few people have sent this along, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted new rules on vehicle searches. My first impression was that I had no idea Pennsylvania instituted a stricter standard on search than the feds. This ruling basically brings Pennsylvania in line with the federal standards, which is what most states follow. It’s frequent that state courts tend to defer to the Supreme Court view on such things. I’m not saying I agree with the ruling, since I generally disagree with the deference state courts give federal court rulings, but it’s not a disaster. The standard for getting a warrant is probable cause anyway, so you still have issues with police manufacturing probable cause (dogs are great for that) even under the old system, but without the requirement to formally obtain a warrant.

Protest / Counter-Protest

When all has been said and done, our side did pretty well for only having a few hours to put a counter-protest together. I counted 42 people in our group, and 25 people in theirs. Except they had their act together a bit more. They marched in from the center of Langhorne Borough, to Frank Farry’s office, while our group was already gathered outside the building. The CeaseFirePA folks immediately monopolized the area in front of traffic, which was smart on their part. Our group mistakenly went to join them, which only served to make their group look bigger than it really was, and given that many people on out side did not have signs, that wasn’t going to be a winning tactic.

Eventually our side kind of figured things out and spread out along the street to make our point to passing traffic. The good thing there is when people drive by and honk, you can’t be sure who they are supporting. This denied the other side the emotional self-satification of thinking everyone supports them.

Because there was only a few hours notice, few in our group had signs, whereas almost all the CeaseFire people had signs, and they also had a large banner. They had more time to plan. One thing it taught us to have signs on hand and ready to go at a moments notice. Folks honored the request not to open carry long guns, and both our people and their people were sending people inside the office to make ourselves heard.

One thing I’d note is that a lot of people want to argue with the other side. I tend to think this is rather pointless. The folks that show up to these rallies are going to be true believers, and not amenable to having their minds changed. All it accomplishes is making their group look bigger. I’m a big fan of staying in two different areas. Our group was bigger, and that could have been very apparent to any person driving past, or to any reporters covering the events.

The purpose of counter-protest is a) denying your opponents the emotional satisfaction of believing they own the field, and b) making sure the media covers both sides of the issue, and c) demonstrating organizational effectiveness to the particular lawmaker targeted. I believe we accomplished a) and c) pretty well, and probably b) too, but we’ll have to see how the media spins it. If they end up misreporting the numbers, that’s because it was really hard to tell once this got going. I counted out our folks before they arrived, and counted their folks as they marched in.

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