What Pennsylvanians Have to Be Looking out For

We’ll be dealing with Kathleen Kane for the next four years. It’s a safe bet all our reciprocity agreements with other states, if not pulled out from entirely, will at least be revisited to deal with the issue of Pennsylvania residents being able to carry on a foreign license. This will destroy most of our potential carrot for dealing with the problem of Philadelphia abusing its discretion preemptively.

Here’s the other catch: we have two years to fix any issues that come out of the Attorney General’s office. Corbett is wildly unpopular. Unless he pulls a rabbit out of his hat, he’s toast in two years when he’s up for re-election. The Democratic Party has abandoned any pretense of being for gun rights in this state, and is highly unlikely to put up a pro-gun candidate for Governor unless there’s a strong internal push from pro-gun Democrats to moderate the left-wing of the party on this issue.

It gets worse. As many of you may have heard, Kim Stolfer is very sick, and while I expect FOAC to continue, Kim is a tireless bulldog for the issue, and not replaceable. In addition, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, another group that’s traditionally been able to turn people out to Harrisburg when needed has been in disarray since Melody Zullinger got married and moved out of state. We also continue to shed hunters in Pennsylvania, and a lost hunter is often a lost gun owner. I know Gun Culture 2.0 people like derisively label hunters as “Fudds,” but any time I’ve been to Harrisburg, it’s hunters who show up. Fewer hunters means fewer advocates.

So where does that leave us? It is my contention that our lines have been broken. While we are not in retreat currently, we soon will be. The question is whether we do a tactical retreat, fall back, regroup and push forward again, or it ends up being a rout. That’s largely going to depend on what we’re willing to do, and how many people are willing to step up. Writing your reps is well a good, but it will take more to push back what’s coming. Defending gun rights in a deep blue state with a major city full of leftists will not be easy, but it can be done. Just ask folks in Washington and Oregon. But will we? Or will we become New Jersey?

41 thoughts on “What Pennsylvanians Have to Be Looking out For”

  1. Don’t forget your southern neighbor too (we’ve stemmed the bleeding and people have been energized to move (ha, I say this disgusted by who’s using it) forward.

    As a VA Non-res permit holder, who do I need to put pressure on to keep my RTC in tact with your state?

    1. There’s not much you’ll be able to do. She can unilaterally withdraw from reciprocity agreements. Not too long ago, the legislature did create an affirmative duty for AGs to sign reciprocity agreements, so we could potentially sue her office if she pulls out of agreements. But I don’t know if I give that much chance of success.

      1. I’m not a Penn. resident, and don’t have the law you refer to in front of me. However, if indeed there is a legal “affirmative duty” to enter into reciprocity agreements, with a specific and non-discretionary standard for doing so, an official’s failure to do so, or the abrogation of agreements that fit within that non-discretionary standard, fits the rquirement for suit pursuant to a Writ of Mandamus. Such a writ is appropriate for requiring a government official to fulfill a non-discretionary duty, and I am reasonably certain that Penn. has such a remedy available.

        Just a thought.

        I’ve not the time to do any research in Penn. statutes and case law to flesh this out, but it’s something you may consider. It all depends on the duty being non-discretionary; if it’s discretionary, your SOL.

        1. I’ve also read that somebody contacted their state rep’s chief of staff. He said that after some research, she couldn’t revoke an agreement without substantial differences between states(the law only requires similar laws).

        2. (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.

          (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.
          (16) Any person holding a license in accordance with section 6109(f)(3).

          1. Sorry not to contribute on a higher intellectual plane, but, how many other things can we point to in Pennsylvania law where it says public officials shall do this or that, and nowhere is it specified “what if they don’t?”

            And so they do or don’t as the spirit moves them.

            That said, the comment above about seeking a Writ of Mandamus in a pinch is a good one, worthy of investigation and preparation, though not worthy of much confidence.

            1. Shall means shall. It is non-discretionary.

              That said, in my state, sometimes (when for practical reasons it’s simply impossible for it to be mandatory) the courts hold that “shall” means “may” – in legal terms, the difference is whether the duty is “mandatory” or “directory.” Mandatory duties would be subject to a writ of mandamus; directory duties likely would not.

              I’ll leave it to the Penn. legal eagles to figure out how that breaks in Pennsylvania.

              1. “Shall means shall. It is non-discretionary.”

                Glad to hear it! But, given that there are no penalties at all for not doing “shall,” how many thousands of dollars can you come up with for every time they “don’t?”

                I’ve been to court twice in my life to challenge RKBA issues, based on what local officials “can’t” do under state law. Both times I was “successful,” but neither time stopped the same officials from doing the same or equivalent things again, within a matter of months, and both times I did it on my and other gun owners dimes. And, neither time did the officials who did what they “couldn’t” do under the law, have to do so much as smack themselves on the forehead with the heel of their hands and say “silly me.” They shrugged and went back to business as usual.

                1. If you want to be very technical, PA is a may-issue state. It is only a quite loose definition of shall-issue that we are such. The fact is that the issuing authority still has a wide measure of discretion. It’s just that in most parts of the state that discretion isn’t horribly abused (though it is, but not to so large a degree it is in Philly).

                  As much as I’d love to see constitutional carry in PA, if we’re going to be stuck with licenses, I’d like to see true shall-issue.

          2. I Know the above isn’t the whole law, but does the AG have the power to cancel existing reciprocity agreements?
            The above only says “The Attorney General shall have the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states” is there a power and duty to cancel them as well?

            1. Normally I would it’s an implicit responsibility, but there doesn’t seem to be any criteria for PA deciding to honor another state’s license or not.

              I.e. Missouri has a very strict licensing regime (extensive training as these things go, fingerprinting, etc.) but evidently doesn’t do a NICS check (which it should, that’s the only window available into mental health disbarments), and evidently therefore Wisconsin doesn’t respect our license.

              So whoever is responsible for Wisconsin would at least implicitly be required to revoke a reciprocity agreement if the other state dropped a requirement that’s in Wisconsin law. (Missouri doesn’t have this problem, we respect all of them, even held by residents of the state, which I gather has been useful for St. Louis and those who don’t want to suffer the expense to get ($100 + training) and maintain ($50/3 years) our license, plus ours used to have a 23 years of age requirement.)

              But after looking at Pennsylvania law just why or with what criteria the AG should negotiate these agreements is not clear. One would need to look at the case law, if any, and the legislative history for guidance. And if your new AG gets abusive, fight it out in the courts. The law is clear she had a “duty” to do this. Then again, the law in Missouri is clear that we have a Castle Doctrine, but that didn’t stop our appeals courts from nullifying it with bogus jury instructions (the Missouri plan really sucks).

  2. I mentioned this to Robb this morning, too, but I’m going to be digging for all the pro-rights Dems I can find, esp those in lower offices. If we cant win with the GOP, its worth a shot to start trying to influence the up and comings in the Democratic Party.

    1. And once again the NRA’s non-partisan attitudes show their worth.

      (By far not a fan of the NRA but this is one thing they get right, even if in a ham-fisted way (crowing about pork from Reid).)

  3. You guys should start lobbying to get the reciprocity thing cut. Get a law passed that takes it out of the AG’s hands and accepts all out of state permits.

    I’m from VA and would either stop visiting PA or just start open carrying.

    1. I think that’s our best move. While we have the Governor and the General Assembly. Take the power away from her completely.

      And its best to start now, while she will be busy investigating the PSU stuff.

      1. You’re operating from the shaky assumption that the governor and the Republican majority really support us, as opposed to just depending on us as dependable election day patsies who give away our votes in return for rhetoric.

        Remember a few years back, when following the annual “pro-gun rally” charade in the capitol in the morning, the General Assembly, including then main speakers from that morning, went back into session in the afternoon to pass legislation enhancing the penalty for possession of a firearm with an obscured serial number? Anti-gun legislation passed with 100 percent of the vote.

        1. We have real problems with the GOP controlled Senate because of Stu Greenleaf controlling a key committee, but we’ve been able to get things done in the GOP controlled house.

    2. Just an add on note

      Open carry is a viable alternative if all reciprocity agreements are taken away and you only have another state’s carry license. Pa law recognizes any state permit for transportation in a car. So you could still carry in a vehicle under your states permit, then open carry when you exit the car since no license is needed for open carry. I’m not sure how Philly would fit into that though.

      1. You need an LTC to open carry in Philadelphia. Meaning you’d have to have a reciprocal license from another state. Not just any license will do.

  4. “I know Gun Culture 2.0 people like derisively label hunters as ‘Fudds'”

    Speaking as a GC 2.0 person, the only time I label a hunter a “Fudd” is when he’s willing to throw black rifles (a.k.a. “Assault Weapons”) or handguns under the bus to appease the gods of gun control. My state Senator, NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney falls squarely into that category.

    1. I’m a GC 1.0 guy, and that’s the way I’ve always understood it. It’s about somebody who says, “Take anything you want as long as I get to keep my double barrel and/or my 30-30.

  5. we have been fighting this type of action in Illinois for a long time. You work for a majority in at least one chamber to block the bad stuff, both chambers is better. then go to work on the things you can. If you have the power, strip the AG of her discreation.

    We know the feeling, Chicago has an undo influance on state politics and the President being a home town boy provided a rout of the GOP. we woul dbe washed up if not for pro-gun dems.

    The dems 40 40 of 59 senate seats and 71 of 118 house seats. they have super-majorities in both chambers. But we are still in business today, and making plans for our next attack.

    1. Right now we need a specific attack or a specific agenda to drive, but if I had to make a good generic list:

      1) Join NRA if you aren’t already a member. I know a lot of people have this problem or that problem with NRA, but they are who the politicians pay attention to.

      2) When it comes to election time, volunteer for local pro-gun candidates. You can do this through your local NRA EVC (Their link seems to be broken)

      3) If we need you in Harrisburg to turn out to push or oppose something when the alarm is raised, if you can make a day for that, it’s a great way to let lawmakers know people give a shit.

      4) Writing your state rep and state senator when the alarm is raised goes without saying.

      1. While we are not in retreat currently, we soon will be. The question is whether we do a tactical retreat, fall back, regroup and push forward again, or it ends up being a rout.

        May I suggest you stretch the metaphor above and add the option of forming square? That’s not strictly defensive, and I don’t think your posture should be either.

    2. A hardline, pro-gun, state group that really is statewide and isn’t a front group for other agendas; that is confrontational rather than “access oriented;” and can resist the temptation to transform from a cause-driven group to a profitable fund-raising enterprise.

      Also, energetic pro-gun legislators who really are pro-gun, and not phonies. Maybe we have some now. I’m willing to listen, but I won’t be holding my breath as I do.

  6. Are you sure PA is shedding hunters? Last national survey (conducted every 5 years) has the number of hunters nationally up by over a million, after decades of decline.

  7. I know Kim. He’s a great man and a strong crusader for guns rights. Sad thing is, like BigHayden said, so many of the deer hunters, Robin Hoods and trap shooters at my local gun club are willing to throw Evil Black Rifle Shooters like myself under the bus. They tout that “there is no way that the Democrats would take away their 30-30’s or their BT-99’s, I could care less about your AR – what the hell do you need that for anyway!”. It’s really sad – we should be uniting against this menace but we internally divide ourselves.

  8. I have already contacted my Congressman, and Senator, and asked them to research what can be done to make reciprocity a law and not a policy. I asked that they introduce legislation to do that.
    One is a Dem and one is a Rep. Both are pro 2nd Amendment.
    Now is the time to get started on this lets not wait for alarm bells to ring.

  9. PA residents carrying in Pa with out-of-state licenses, as a tactic to get around Philly’s license-issuing problems has never had popular support amongst the voters in PA and will not be likely to survive. It is not a good answer to the Philly problem anyway. Using PA courts to fix the Philly problem is a better plan.

    One other thing: I am about done with the Republican Party, locally as well as nationally. When I grew up in Montgomery County, my County and local township (LM) was rock-solid Republican. A Democrat could not get elected as dog catcher, let alone anything else. Since the 90’s, the Republicans have been steadily losing elections in that area. Now I live in Lancaster County, and the City went from Republican control of Mayor’s office and City Council to completely out of office. The County may follow over the next 10-20 years. Nationally, the Republicans are a joke. they cave in on everything that Nancy and Harry want, and they fight for things like low taxes on wealthy people, but you got guys like Senator Toomey who are proposing to eliminate MY tax deductions and let my taxes rise, a hell of a lot, but preserve low taxes for the wealthy. I’m middle class. I can do without “friends” in office like Pat Toomey and the other elected Republicans. I think we need to take over the Democrat Party. There are enough conservatives in PA that we could do it if we tried.

    1. Errr, you should really distinguish between “low tax rates for the wealthy” and “low taxes for the wealthy”.

      Loopholes aside (which are entirely bipartisan; e.g. you don’t think the Kennedys are paying high tax rates, do you?), the wealthy pay a lot of taxes. That’s one of the reasons we’re running such high Federal deficits, our system is so weighted towards revenue from them that when most everyone got poorer with the Great Recession the Feds got a lot less from them.

      Here’s the first relevant link I found in a Google search, which I’m going with since it matches my memory; note AGI is Adjusted Gross Income; as of 2009:

      The top 1% of earners pay 37% of all Federal income taxes. Their AGI threshold is $343,927.

      The top 5% of earners pay 59% of all Federal income taxes. Their AGI threshold is $154,643.

      The top 10% of earners pay $70% of all Federal income taxes. Their AGI threshold is $112,124.

      The top 25% of earners pay 87% of all Federal income taxes. Their AGI threshold is $66,193.

      Now how overbalanced the system is: the eeeeevil 1% pay more than a third! (Often it’s been closer to 40%). The top 5%, not far from 2/3rds.

      How much more do you propose to confiscate from these groups? Why does that make sense? I.e. how will the government spend and “invest” this money more wisely than they? Note that Obama in particular wants to raise their tax rates to punish them, not to get more revenue for the government (particularly short sided in the most clear example, that of capital gains taxes which are not indexed for inflation, i.e. much of the “gains” are just keeping up with it).

      Your other comments about the Republicans are reasonably on target, unfortunately. We’ve got to reform the party or do a Whig->Republican style replacement, and then there’s the thesis the Democrats will die when the free ice cream runs out, the Republicans will naturally replace them, and a new party will replace the Republicans.

  10. Trevor,
    I am coming to your conclusion too. I am old enough to remember plenty of pro 2A Democrats in my native coal and steel country.

    It is not as hard to field alternative candidates in low turnout primaries, and the Republicans treat gun owners like the Dems. treat black voters.

    What happens if gun owners are a swing vote that both sides need to court with flowers and candy instead of treating us like members of the first wives club?

    Good essay here…


  11. ” I am old enough to remember plenty of pro 2A Democrats in my native coal and steel country.”

    Me too, and that was within 25 miles of Center City Philadelphia. As I’ve mentioned before, I OCed c. 1964, when I was 18 and looked 14, even going into the Post Office.

    Here’s a thought — could it be that pro-RKBA Democrats need to do the same things that Republicans who oppose their own loon elements need to do? Grow some balls and speak out for what they believe, rather than supporting a party position that might collapse like a house of cards if enough people stood up to it, once the “team sport” dimension was removed?

  12. Full disclosure, I am a FOAC volunteer and Regional Coordinator. (most of what I do is print media related in the area and for fundraising).

    Kim is very ill, and despite that, many of us have had the hard realization that we need to take up much of the work he has done over the years, and some good people have stepped up to do as such. I know our new VP Dan Campbell has been working hard, especially with a crucial election day come and gone, to keep this up.

    I know that more long hard work is ahead, and look forward to when Kim is up and about and back to his bulldog like ways. This is a learning experience for PA… we all need to understand how fragile this is, and how much work it takes, to protect our rights. We need to start getting the younger kids involved… at 32, me being the youngest member at a local FOAC meeting and sometimes at my gun club’s meetings is not a good thing. When we loose these good men and women, where will our right be?

    Or will it be enough for the next generation to be able to look at cool firearms through an LCD screen, or through the screen door when they step out of favor with their Statist leaders?

    1. Is anything available from the Veterans Administration to help Kim, since he’s a Marine veteran? Or is it a case of, that he is still too young to get any benefits, since he wasn’t a career man? I have been aware of other younger, one-hitch veterans getting help with non-service-related health expenses, but I’m not sure how it works. My interpretations of what I’ve read at VA websites has always been that I wouldn’t qualify, by I hope people like Kim who are in dire need can!

  13. might I also mention, while working the polls, most people laughed at teh whole idea of gun ownership and voting for firearms rights. I stood there for 12 hours handing out voter guides, to a group of voters 1/2 wearing camo hunting gear… only to have the typical “Fudd” reaction.

    That should tell you where we stand.

  14. Bryan makes a remarkably accurate and chilling observation. IF we could get Pennsylvania’s lawful gun owners to vote in a block, we could sell Pennsylvania back to the Indians, split the profits, and retire comfortably to Arizona. Lamentably, gun owners seem to think, in large part, “not my deer rifle”, or “not my trap shotgun”. Its sad to think that the only folks who “get it” are the defensive shooters and LTCF holders. Even there, we see splits.

    I worked as a poll watcher on Tuesday, and I can confidently tell you that the Obama supporters had a much better ground game than Romney’s did. You can blame that on the propensity of Democrats to redistribute the wealth, and so forth, but the fact remains–WE didn’t get to the polls in sufficient numbers to counter those who suck at the public teat.

    These next 4 years are going to be defined by Obama’s “under the radar” gun control, Feinstein’s insistence on a new gun ban, and CeaseFirePA and the Brady Bunch being newly energized by apparent apathy in the ranks of gun owners.

    1. One of my bitterest memories is from some years ago, when some club members complained that our 5 – 15 minute legislative reports were too long, so the board voted to restrict us to a maximum of five minutes. That was quickly forgotten, and never seriously enforced, but I just recite the anecdote to illustrate how much even shooters serious enough to come to meeting are about your efforts. They want you to handle their problems, without having to be told about it.
      Other subject: My suggestion is that we stop using that “those who suck at the public teat” meme as an excuse for not being able to prevail with our own agenda. For one thing, it is not as true as you’d hope to believe, but, even if you think it is, focusing on it diverts attention from understanding what the general public doesn’t like about the people who buy our votes with little more than trivial, pro-gun rhetoric.

      1. On my last paragraph, a cut-and-paste of something someone just sent me:

        “Mitt Romney could have easily won the presidential election if he and his party had realized that they were turning people off, according to Matt Taibbi.

        “If they were self-aware at all, Mitt Romney would probably be president right now,” Taibbi wrote in a blog post for Rolling Stone late Thursday.

        He argued that Republicans’ message about financial responsibility could resonate with a lot of people, but unfortunately it is a cover for their belief that women and minorities are “parasites.”

        Modern Republicans “have so much of their own collective identity wrapped up in the belief that they’re surrounded by free-loading, job-averse parasites who not only want to smoke weed and have recreational abortions all day long, but want hardworking white Christians like them to pay the tab,” Taibbi wrote. “Their whole belief system…is inherently insulting to everyone outside the tent – and you can’t win votes when you’re calling people lazy, stoned moochers.”

        Minorities and women voted overwhelmingly for Obama in the presidential election. Fifty-five percent of women voted for Obama, according to CNN’s exit polls. Obama also won nearly three-quarters of the Latino vote, more than 90 percent of the black vote, and 73 percent of the Asian-American vote, according to exit polls.

        Some comments by Romney may have played a role. Romney told donors in a video leaked before the election that 47 percent of Americans “are dependent upon government,” “believe that they are victims,” and “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

        President Barack Obama trounced Romney in the electoral college, winning 332 electoral votes compared to Romney’s 206. But the election was not a total victory for Democrats. Obama won the popular vote by a closer margin: 50.5 percent compared to Romney’s 48.0 percent. Republicans also kept the House of Representatives, and Democrats did not gain enough seats in the Senate to prevent future filibusters by Republicans.”

Comments are closed.