Gov. Corbett’s Independence Day Message

Sunday Hunting Legislative Efforts

Now that Castle Doctrine has been signed into law, many gun owners and hunters are taking a closer look at another issue that has been up for debate for years now – opening hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have repealed nearly all of these blue laws that were originally enacted in order to regulate personal religious or moral behavior. Only a small minority maintain their blue laws against hunting.

Advocates of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania recently released a report on the predicted economic impact of allowing hunting throughout the entire weekend. Now, the legislature is finally moving forward on the proposal. Representative John Evans introduced HB 1760 that was referred to the chamber’s Game and Fisheries Committee this week.

Representative Marc Gergely also released a statement about hist work on this week’s resolution from the Pennsylvania Game Commission to support Sunday hunting:

“I thank the Game Commission for passing this resolution that I requested,” Gergely said. “Sunday hunting would double the number of days many hunters will have to enjoy their sport, create thousands of jobs and attract young people to hunting and conservation.”

A recent legislative hearing on the issue of Sunday hunting had a high turnout, as seen by these photos posted by Rep. Evans. In addition, he recently conducted an interview on the recent meetings and the broader Sunday hunting topics that you can listen to here. He addresses some of the groups opposed to the legislation, as well as the upcoming plans for the House Game & Fisheries Committee in tackling the legislation.

NRA News recently conducted an interview with Rep. Evans on his effort to recruit more co-sponsors on his Sunday hunting bill. Specifically, host Cam Edwards gets to the root of why sportsmen in Pennsylvania want to see this change.

As of the end of June, here are the representatives who have stepped up to support your right to hunt alongside Rep. Evans:

Rep. Edward Staback
Rep. Marc Gergely
Rep. Tom Caltagirone
Rep. Mark Cohen
Rep. Peter Daley
Rep. Tony DeLuca
Rep. Eli Evankovich
Rep. Garth Everett
Rep. Florindo Fabrizio
Rep. Neal Goodman
Rep. John Hornaman
Rep. Tom Killion
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe
Rep. Jerry Mullery
Rep. Tom Murt
Rep. Mike Vereb
Rep. Randy Vulakovich
Rep. Jake Wheatley
Rep. Bill Kortz

As the Game & Fisheries Committee continues to hold hearings on the topic, NRA is asking its members to contact their lawmakers to request their support of the bill.

Game Commission Resolution on Sunday Hunting

This week, the Pennsylvania Game Commission passed the following resolution calling for the end of the ban on Sunday hunting in the Commonwealth:

“The Board of Commissioners for the Pennsylvania Game Commission declares its support for a repeal of prohibitions on Sunday hunting by the amending of Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues in Hunting and Trapping.

“Whereas, Pennsylvania has experienced consistent declines in hunting participation by both resident and non-resident hunters over the past several decades, with both the number of license sold and revenues generated experiencing steady declines, and

“Whereas, youth participation is vital to maintaining the long-standing tradition of hunting in Pennsylvania, we can effectively double the number of hunting days for youths during the school year by offering Sunday hunting, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is an effective means of recruiting new hunters and retaining current hunters by increasing the value of the hunting license through offering additional opportunities to spend time in the field, and

“Whereas, many Pennsylvania residents seek hunting opportunities and hunting leases in neighboring states that offer Sunday hunting; Sunday hunting will keep Pennsylvania hunters in Pennsylvania, and

“Whereas Pennsylvania has a long-standing tradition of hunting camps and clubs, Sunday hunting will effectively double the number of hunting days for camp owners and club members, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is expected to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license sales and the accompanying revenue for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and

“Whereas, hunting license sales and their associated federal matching funds are the primary revenue source for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in carrying out its mission, including maintaining 1.5 million acres of state game lands and acquisition of additional public lands, research and management of wildlife and providing information and education to the public, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting will provide substantial economic benefits to rural areas and businesses by increasing money spent by hunters on lodging, food, gas and other incidental items, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is expected to generate $629 million in additional spending and create 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax, and

“Whereas, the mission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is to manage wildlife and its habitat for current and future generations, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting, which is currently permitted to control a growing population of coyotes, will provide the biologists of the Pennsylvania Game Commission a new tool to manage wildlife populations, and

“Whereas, the forty-three states that currently permit Sunday hunting have not experienced any discernable impact on the health or vibrancy of game populations, and

“Whereas, the Board of Commissioners recognizes the authority to permit Sunday hunting lies entirely with the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and

“Whereas, if the General Assembly repeals the restrictions on Sunday hunting thus giving authority to regulate Sunday hunting to the Board of Commissioners, the Board recognizes the many stakeholder groups any action on Sunday hunting will effect and will endeavor to engage these stakeholders before passing any new regulations in regard to Sunday hunting.

“NOW, THEREFOR, we the Board of Commissioners for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, do hereby urge the General Assembly of Pennsylvania to REPEAL the PROHIBITION ON SUNDAY HUNTING IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA.”

Castle Doctrine Lawmakers Celebrate

Based on the smiles on their faces and the speed of their social network updates, more than a few lawmakers were genuinely excited to see Gov. Tom Corbett sign the important self-defense bill into law. Here’s a roundup of statements, tweets, and other posting by lawmakers who fought so hard to pass Castle Doctrine this year.

From Rep. Scott Perry:

“It is a great day for Pennsylvania. I am grateful to Governor Corbett for signing the original Castle Doctrine into law. This will enable law-abiding citizens in our Commonwealth to defend themselves in the face of violent attack. There are many people who worked very hard over the past few years to make this bill become the law of the land.

“Our citizens who work hard and abide by the rules of decent society deserve the protection of the law. They deserve our best effort, and it is gratifying that both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor agree with this. The bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support during the process of passage and I am grateful to all who backed this effort.”

From Rep. Seth Grove:

“Governor Tom Corbett’s signature on legislation that will allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves is a victory for the people. The new law removes the duty to retreat and allows Pennsylvanians to stand their ground and fight off an attacker. This measure will allow an individual to take whatever action may be necessary to preserve his or her life and protect the safety of loved ones when legitimately threatened.

“This is one of the most popular proposals among York County residents. I have heard from so many people who are fed up with laws that protect criminals and ignore the rights of victims. The new law will provide civil lawsuit protection for those citizens who genuinely act in self defense and will hinder the attempts of criminals to seek jury awards for injuries they receive in the perpetration of a crime.

“I applaud Representative Scott Perry and all my colleagues in the House who came together to make this proposal a reality. It was a great blow to our civil rights when former Governor Ed Rendell vetoed this legislation last year, but Governor Corbett’s signature today goes to show that nothing can stand in the way of good policy.”

Rep. Grove also gave a live Facebook update while he was at the ceremony.

Rep. Stephen Bloom joined the live updates on his Facebook page, and he shared a picture of himself with several other lawmakers, NRA lobbyist John Hohenwarter, and Gov. Tom Corbett.

Rep. Keith Gillespie posted a similar picture with a number of House supporters of the bill and added this comment:

As one who would do all in my power to avoid taking someone else’s life but would protect my family to the death if necessary, I support House Bill 40, the Castle Doctine legislation. I was proud to today be in the company of Gov. Corbett as he signed the legislation into law.

Posting the same picture as Rep. Gillespie, Rep. Ron Miller added his comment:

As one of the cosponsors of House Bill 40, I was pleased to have been in attendance today as Gov. Corbett signed into law the Castle Doctrine legislation.

Gov. Corbett Signs Castle Doctrine!

The time has finally come to return common sense and good judgment to state government, and this legislation is a step in that direction. A criminal should never have an advantage over a citizen who abides by the rules of decent society, and today, we finally achieved the goal of returning the right of self-defense to the law-abiding.” – Rep. Scott Perry

The NRA-ILA talked to Castle Doctrine sponsors and just released this announcement minutes after the bill was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett:

Governor Tom Corbett has signed Pennsylvania Castle Doctrine legislation into law. This common-sense measure permits law-abiding citizens to use force, including deadly force, against an attacker in their home and any place where they have a legal right to be. It also protects individuals from civil lawsuits by an attacker or attacker’s family when force is used.

“Gov. Corbett and Pennsylvania lawmakers know that law-abiding citizens must have the right to protect themselves when criminals attack without fear of being second-guessed by an overzealous prosecutor,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Crime victims don’t have the luxury of time when confronted by a criminal and must be able to count on the law being on their side. This new law accomplishes that by removing any mandate of forcible retreat.”

The NRA has led the nationwide movement to pass Castle Doctrine legislation, beginning with Florida in 2005. Pennsylvania is the 27th state to adopt this important measure with overwhelming bipartisan support. House Bill 40, sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry (R-92), passed by a 164 to 37 margin. Richard Alloway, II (R-33), sponsored the companion bill to HB 40, Senate Bill 273, which passed 43-4.

“I am very gratified that Governor Corbett has signed this legislation into law, correcting the grievous error made by the previous administration in denying these long-sought protections to our citizens,” said Rep. Perry. “There are many people who have worked hard to get this legislation to this point, and I am grateful to my House and Senate colleagues and to the National Rifle Association for their support. The time has finally come to return common sense and good judgment to state government, and this legislation is a step in that direction. A criminal should never have an advantage over a citizen who abides by the rules of decent society, and today, we finally achieved the goal of returning the right of self-defense to the law-abiding.”

“Law-abiding gun owners should not have to fear prosecution for acting to prevent a violent crime,” said Sen. Alloway, who introduced Castle Doctrine legislation that was approved by the Senate in March. “I am thankful that the General Assembly has taken action to protect responsible gun owners who respond when facing a serious threat from a criminal. I would also like to thank the NRA for their strong leadership and hard work on this effort as it moved through the legislative process.”

“On behalf of NRA members and all gun owners in Pennsylvania, I would like to thank Rep. Perry; Sen. Alloway; and Gov. Corbett for their leadership in helping make Castle Doctrine a reality for Pennsylvanians,” concluded Cox. “This Castle Doctrine bill places the law on the side of law-abiding gun owners who unfortunately become victims of crime – exactly where the law should be.”

Responses to Castle Doctrine Passage

Since the Senate passed Castle Doctrine by a 45-5 vote this week, Governor Tom Corbett’s office has reiterated his support of the bill several times.  His spokesman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he still plans to sign the legislation.  Activists have been asking for his support since he started running for office.

In addition to talking to the mainstream press, Gov. Corbett’s office also took to social media to spread the news with this post on Facebook:
Governor Corbett will soon sign into law the Castle Doctrine legislation that the Senate recently passed.

But anti-gun activists won’t let up. With biting commentary about lawful gun owners who choose to carry concealed firearms, they have taken to his Facebook page to respond. Here are a few of the comments from those looking to restrict our rights:
“Donna Fisher: Why do sane and sensible people have to be endangered by yahoo gun-slingers who let fear rule their lives?”

“Gavin Jensen: Good news for all those who live in the Yosimite-Sam-Dirty-Harry-gun-slinger fantasy world: you don’t have to wait for someone to come into your house before you shoot them. Now it’s legal on your front lawn! Why retreat when you can reload, right?”

“Jason Penopolis DeWitt: Actually I think Gavin has captured the overall direction of the bill. Instead of returning to your home at the first sign of trouble, you simply kill the person causing the trouble and label it “self defense”. Kill first, ask questions never.”

These are all people who clearly have not read the current law or the bill in question. Fortunately, more informed folks have made an effort to set the facts straight in the post, but it reminds us why we must contact even lawmakers who regularly support our rights and thank them for that support. We cannot let those who want to infringe upon our rights be the only voices our lawmakers hear in these debates.

Lifting Anti-Hunting Blue Laws

Alerts from NRA and NSSF this week announced a public meeting of the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee tomorrow to tackle the topic of ending the the blue law that bans Sunday hunting dating back to the 1870s.

The Sunday Hunting Coalition – a group of 14 organizations that believe the prohibitions on Sunday hunting that remains in only a handful of states should be overturned – points out that Pennsylvania would see a significant economic boost from expanding the number of days hunters are allowed to take to the fields and woods.
The estimated impacts from a lift on the ban on Sunday hunting are based on responses to surveys of hunters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In these two states, government agencies conducted extensive surveys of hunters in which they were asked to report the number of additional days they would participate in hunting if the Sunday hunting ban were to be lifted. Based on these responses, it is estimated that hunters will participate in, on average, about 22 percent of the additional days made available to them from the lifting of the ban. In other words, if the lifting of restrictions increased the number of hunting days by 10, the average hunter would increase their hunting days by about two.

Specifically, Pennsylvania would likely see a direct economic impactDirect impacts include jobs, output, and wages created from primary hunter expenditures ranging from licenses, ammunition, and hunting supplies to food, fuel, and magazines. that could create more than 4,400 jobs with wages topping $99 million. Of all the states with Sunday hunting bans or heavy restrictions, Pennsylvania stands to gain the most jobs and economic impact of a repeal of the prohibition. Neighboring states with similar bans such as New Jersey and Delaware would also see an economic benefit, but to the tune of only 560 and 225 jobs, respectively. Should Pennsylvania repeal the ban first, it is possible that the Keystone State could absorb more of those benefits as more out-of-state hunters are attracted to our state.

Blue laws, by definition, are extremely rigorous laws designed to regulate morals and conduct – often found in New England. They were enacted in order to restrict activity during the time that religious leaders believed citizens should be participating in religious activity. Many of these laws were repealed out of sheer common sense that we no long live in a world where influential leaders should be able to use government authority to promote their religious beliefs.

According to the Sunday Hunting Coalition, these laws started to fall in the late 19th century as they were challenged by business groups whose members were harmed by the forced closure. Their research shows that Pennsylvania is seriously behind on this trend of repealing these harmful laws since by 1970, only 25 states still had blue laws. By 1984, the number had fallen to only 13 states.

For many hunters, weekends are their only opportunities to get outdoors. Our Sunday hunting ban effectively cuts available hunting time in half for our sportsmen who already struggle to find the time and space to enjoy the hunt. For many, it also intrudes on their opportunities to invite friends or children along in order to share our outdoor heritage and pass it on to future generations.

Citizens who wish to attend the House committee meeting may do so on Thursday, June 9. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Waterwheel Drive in Seven Springs.

Presidential Politics & Pennsylvania

With so many candidates expected to announce their presidential campaign plans during the next month, and several who already have done so, we thought it would be interesting to remind followers of a Pennsylvania connection to gun owners by one of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination.

In 2008, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty stopped by the Factoryville Sportsmen’s Club in Wyoming County to launch Sportsmen for McCain. He discussed a variety of issues important to gun owners at the time, and this video is well worth a few minutes of your time.

For more information on the woman he referenced in his speech and her incredible story, read about her here.

Honoring Those Who Gave All

Below, you’ll find a video that NRA created for Veteran’s Day in a couple of years ago. However, the respect, courage, and bravery it depicts of our men and women in uniform reminds us of those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights.

Castle Doctrine Update

Recently, I was suprised to see a press release from Senator Richard Alloway containing a link to an interview I conducted with NRA’s Pennsylvania State Liaison last session (also posted here).  Senator Alloway is the sponsor of the Castle Doctrine bill in the Senate, and he has been instrumental in trying to get this passed for us in order for it to be sent to the Governor. On the long road to get this bill passed, there have certainly been a lot of rumors, allegations, and frustrations expressed along the way. Senator Alloway addresses many of these in his release, but I’ve noticed the current delay in passage is creating more rumors.

One of those rumors is that there is a deal in the works to pass so-called Florida Loophole (restrictions on reciprocity of concealed carry licenses) along with Castle Doctrine. I talked to NRA’s State Liaison, John Hohenwarter, this week and asked if there was a deal to amend the Florida Loophole in exchange for moving Castle Doctrine. He assured me that there is no deal in the works, and Castle Doctrine should be able to pass as a clean bill.

We have discussed the history that shows the Senate is a tougher landscape for pro-Second Amendment legislation than the House. It’s important that you call your State Senator and tell them you want Castle Doctrine passed. The more they hear from us, the faster this can happen. Keep in mind that our opposition’s goal is to drag things out as much as possible, in the hope of exhausting us, and turning us against each other. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, there’s evidence that tactic is working. We can get Castle Doctrine, but only if we keep marching in the same direction.