Pennsylvania Constitution No Obstacle for Ed

Jeff Soyer points to a pretty good editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.  I agree with the editorial that one-gun-a-month and weakening preemption are unconstitutional on their face.   I’m not sure the “Lost and Stolen” bill is, even though I think it’s still bad public policy, and shouldn’t be passed into law.  My reasoning is that it’s a regulatory requirement rather than a restraint on anyone’s ability to possess, carry, buy, lend or sell a firearm.  The state conceivably has the power to require reporting of a lost or stolen gun under it’s powers to control it’s militia.  Nonetheless, the point is a good one:

If a majority of Pennsylvanians deem it necessary to enact Rendell-like gun controls, wouldn’t they agree to amend Article I, Section 21? What those of Rendell’s ilk fear — and why such constitutional end-runs are so routinely pressed — is that a majority of Pennsylvanians likely don’t support such schemes.

I don’t see any serious movement in this direction in Pennsylvania.  But then again, if you can just get judges to render the right meaningless, why bother doing it the hard way?

6 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Constitution No Obstacle for Ed”

  1. I just had a thought. The courts have consistently struck down spousal notification of abortion on freedom of speech grounds. I.E. you can’t force a person to speak.

    Wouldn’t this hold true for requiring a person to report stolen weapons to the state. Isn’t the state forcing someone to speak? And couldn’t the case law about spousal notification be applied?

  2. The spousal notification requirement was struck down in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it was struck down for the fact that it violated the due process clause of the 14th amendment rather than first amendment grounds.

    But there’s numerous other precedent on compelled speech, and as far as I know The Court has generally frowned upon it. I’m not an expert on the ins and outs of these cases, but most of them rest on compelled expressive speech, like forcing people in certain religious sects to salute the flag, or what have you.

    That’s an interesting question though, and I don’t know the answer. Someone like Eugene Volokh might.

  3. The post-gazette has an interesting article about it as well…. I think that it is trying to be balanced.

  4. I’d like to read the article if you have the link. I still think the lost and stolen bill is bad, bad, bad…. but I do think there’s a lot of ways anti-gun folks can frustrate gun owners without running afoul of the constitution. A state could presumably want to have a lost or stolen firearm reported for a variety of reasons that are within it’s powers to control the state militia.

    I’m not saying the current lost and stolen bill isn’t unconstitutional, just that it’s not on its face. An argument could possibly be made as to how it’s within the state’s powers, and doesn’t interfere with people’s right to be armed.

  5. I am a retired state employee. In my experience, Mr Rendell is little more than a self serving political hack who is searching for a “grand finale” to his terms as Governor in hope of securing higher appointed or elected office in the future. He certainly has displayed no concern for the Constitution in his administration. He plays to the crowd, but in this instance he has misjudged the crowd badly.
    He is a cheap, shoddy pol, and I will be glad when he is gone.


  6. Yeahm, what Mark said… overall, this points to what I think you’ve said and others have said (maybe not in these cliched words) about winning hearts and minds to our cause. Like sharing a range day with a friend or coworker, gently (.22 lr at its finest) introducing someone to shooting who fears guns, or explaining why you believe it’s important.

    Good editorial

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