SE Pennsylvania Towns Talk Gun Control

All of the federal gun control bills and state proposals aren’t stopping local towns from weighing in on the Second Amendment battles.

On the anti-rights side, we have seen quite a bit of action. First there was the effort by Lower Makefield to lobby for ending preemption, but they deserve credit for rescinding their resolution.

In the next county over, Upper Moreland is currently pushing to use public resources to lobby for more gun control, seemingly for semi-automatic rifle bans and more – possibly including full registration according to supporters. (Unfortunately, the township hasn’t posted minutes, resolution text, or videos from recent meetings, so actual language isn’t easily available.) One of the Upper Moreland proposal’s supporters compared gun owners & NRA members to Nazis during public debate during the January meeting. Township residents who want to oppose this should contact their commissioners this week and follow up at their March 4 7pm regular meeting at Township Building, 117 Park Avenue in Willow Grove.

On the pro-rights side, New Britain, PA is considering a resolution to reaffirm the Second Amendment is an individual right and that the town “strongly objects to the passage of any new law or regulation … that infringes upon Second Amendment rights.”
Explaining why she wanted the resolution, [Councilwoman Mary Pat] Holewinski said, “When I was elected and sworn in, I swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. I introduced it as a means for borough council to show support for the Constitution.”

Residents who want to weigh in on the pro-Second Amendment resolution can attend the March 12 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.

Federal Lawmakers Targeted by Obama

President Obama’s newly re-organized policy group, OFA, is spending 6 figures on a single Twitter campaign today to target Republicans they think they can cause problems for with Second Amendment issues. Gun owners need to step up and oppose this massive purchase of “grassroots” activity.

So, with a little click of your mouse, you can tweet to each of the Pennsylvania lawmakers with one of these messages. If you live in their district, make sure to say it. If you don’t tweet, the lawmaker names go to their Facebook pages.

Jim Gerlach (PA-6)

I vote and support the Second Amendment. Support me and my rights. Oppose gun control.
Constituents: I love our community and country. I vote and oppose gun control. So should you.

Pat Meehan (PA-7)

I vote and support the Second Amendment. Support me and my rights. Oppose gun control.
Constituents: I love our community and country. I vote and oppose gun control. So should you.

Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8)

I vote and support the Second Amendment. Support me and my rights. Oppose gun control.
Constituents: I love our community and country. I vote and oppose gun control. So should you.

Lower Makefield Backs Down on Weakening Preemption

Yesterday afternoon, we passed on an alert from a local gun club to gun owners in the area of Lower Makefield Township in Bucks County via Facebook. It turns out that a January meeting of the Board of Supervisors featured an anti-gun advocate who pressed the Board to engage in a bit of anti-Second Amendment lobbying on “behalf” of the citizens of the town.

While the anti-gun advocate initially demanded that the town leaders lobby federal lawmakers to support a ban on semi-automatic rifles, the Board was apparently cautious about entering the federal debate. However, they instead decided to pass a resolution calling on higher level lawmakers to end Pennsylvania’s preemption statute.

Pennsylvania’s preemption law says that only the state can pass laws that regulate the use and ownership of firearms. Allowing local governments to create their own regulations would mean that licensed concealed carry holders or recreational shooters who travel the state to compete would have to memorize different regulations in every single one of Pennsylvania’s 56 cities, 958 boroughs, and 1,547 townships. In other words, we effectively could never leave our own towns with our firearms if we did not want to risk breaking a gun law.

Gun owners rallied. They emailed their supervisors and told them that this resolution was simply not acceptable. Many gun owners turned out to the meeting to let the township leaders know how unhappy they were with the resolution.

Oddly enough, it was actually through a verbal challenge by a gun control supporter that one supervisor, after acknowledging that the resolution was one of only two votes he has ever come to regret, made a motion to actually rescind the previous month’s resolution and lobbying request. After some additional discussion, the motion to rescind the anti-preemption lobbying resolution passed unanimously.

We covered the meeting live on the @PAGunRights Twitter account. This was a great example of how gun owners shut down their own local resources being used against them to lobby against important Second Amendment protections with just a few emails and by showing up one evening. Granted, those gun owners in Lower Makefield Township now know that they will have to keep an eye on these local lawmakers to make sure they don’t oppose our rights again, but at least they were able to succeed at home in this fight.

Joe Biden in Philly for Gun Control Meeting

Vice President Joe Biden decided to lecture Philadelphia-area tv viewers and newspaper readers about how banning commonly owned firearms isn’t a violation of the Second Amendment.

Biden in Philly: No conflict between gun proposals and Second Amendment

— Karen Langley (@karen_langley) February 11, 2013

“That’s a bunch of Malarkey.” -Joe Biden in response to claims he plans on taking away people’s guns. #BidenInPhilly #BidenGuns

— Sy Snyder (@PoliticsPA) February 11, 2013

It’s accurate to say he’s lecturing at media consumers rather than speaking to the public because Joe Biden would not release details of the event location or time to the public, nor were citizens allowed to attend the so-called roundtable on gun control.

One tactic the Vice President is using is to redefine the understanding of the Second Amendment.

Biden…not loking to go after legitimate right to bear arms

— Tom MacDonald–WHYY(@TMacDonaldWHYY) February 11, 2013

See, there’s his “legitimate right to bear arms” which doesn’t include common semi-automatic rifles or popular handguns with 15 or 17 round magazines. This creates a notion that there’s the “illegitimate right to bear arms” that isn’t worth mentioning because, well, those people who oppose the White House are simply illegitimate.

But Biden isn’t the only one speaking out. Likely gubernatorial candidate Rep. Allyson Schwartz is in attendance and joining the push for a gun ban. Rep. Bob Brady, head of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, highlighted how proud he is of his F rating from NRA.

Cong Bob Brady….I have F minus with the NRA.And I am proud of it

— Tom MacDonald–WHYY(@TMacDonaldWHYY) February 11, 2013

Rep. Chaka Fattah says we can’t allow people to own semi-automatic rifles at all.

Congressnan Chaka Fattah…we have to decide that we can’t have people running arpund with military style assault weapons.

— Tom MacDonald–WHYY(@TMacDonaldWHYY) February 11, 2013

New Carry Restrictions in Pennsylvania

Just as promised on the campaign trail, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, is now “modifying” reciprocity agreements to restrict carry in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania residents who have Florida permits can keep them, but they will no longer be valid in Pennsylvania. More importantly, non-Florida non-residents with Florida licenses to carry can no longer carry in Pennsylvania. If you are a Delaware resident who carries in Pennsylvania on the Florida permit, you’re no longer legal to carry here.

In fact, it appears that non-Florida non-residents who may have been carrying on a Florida license in the last week have actually been carrying illegally. The new agreement went into effect last Friday, but the Attorney General did not post it or announce it until today.

Joe Biden Comes to PA for Gun Control Meeting

This afternoon, the White House announced that they are sending Vice President Joe Biden to Philadelphia to rally more support for the President’s anti-gun agenda that includes banning the most popular semi-automatic firearms in the country.

The Mondayevent is expected to be closed to the public and constituents, but Sen. Bob Casey and Reps. Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz–considered a favorite to run for Pennsylvania Governor next year–and Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole are all expected to attend.

No other details have been released yet, but we’ll keep you informed on Twitter as more information becomes available.

Lawmaker Launches Bucks County Anti-Gun Group

We reported in December that Rep. Steve Santarsiero announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban possession of semi-automatic rifles in Pennsylvania. He said that proposed federal bills that would merely ban future firearms were not draconian enough, and that the continued possession of these commonly owned firearms was “a considerable loophole that we here in Pennsylvania should and, indeed, must close.”

Now, Rep. Santarsiero has announced a new anti-gun organization for Bucks County. He calls the group “Bucks Safe,” and their mission says that a key policy initiative is to “draw a clear line in the sand between the weapons and ammunition that have a lawful place in our society and those that do not.”

If you live in Rep. Santarsiero’s district, now is the time to speak out against his proposed gun ban. Let him know that these firearms are some of the most commonly owned and used guns available today for every lawful use from home defense to competition.

If you live in Bucks County, make sure that you’re keeping up with all of the latest information on your rights. Don’t forget to contact your state lawmakers and ask them to stand up for the Second Amendment! Here are the other Bucks County lawmakers:

Sen. Tommy Tomlinson
Sen. Chuck McIlhinney
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf
Sen. Bob Mensch
Rep. Bernie O’Neill
Rep. Frank Farry
Rep. Gene DiGirolamo
Rep. John Galloway
Rep. Kathy Watson
Rep. Marguerite Quinn
Rep. Paul Clymer
Rep. Scott Petri
Rep. Tina Davis

Turning Carry License Demand into Political Action

Lackawanna County Sheriff John Szymanski has been forced to extend business hours just for concealed carry license applications, pick-ups, and to answer questions about gun permits. Twice a week, his office will remain open until 8pm just to handle the approximately 40 permits a day he has been issuing since the beginning of the month. Last month, he issued 413 permits. That was up over the same month in 2011 by 56%.

The story says that the sheriff’s office couldn’t handle the “constant line” of applicants, so now they have a sign-in sheet–in addition to the added hours. The added hours will be in effect until at least the end of February, but will go back to normal once the rush slows down.

If any Lackawanna County Second Amendment supporters want to find a line of gun owners just waiting to “do something,” this would be a great place to collect signatures on letters to Congress. Activists would know that everyone in the line lives in the county, and it’s only split between two Congressional districts – Reps. Tom Marino and Matt Cartwright. Cartwright campaigned on a gun control platform pretty much as extreme as anything you’ve heard about on the table federally, but Marino could use the extra voices telling him to stand up for gun owners.

Many of the people getting licenses, buying guns, and attending gun shows have told reporters that they feel their “action” is speaking to Congress. In fact, it isn’t saying anything at all to Congress, other than the fact that they don’t actually care enough about their rights to talk to anyone else about them. Pew recently released a poll that shows only 15% of people who support the Second Amendment & feel it should be protected from gun control proposals we’re hearing about right now have ever contacted a lawmaker about the issue. If we mobilize even a portion of that remaining 85% who say they support us, but have not bothered to write, then we can preserve the Second Amendment as an individual right.

Semi-Automatic Ban is “a Very Important Step”

Last Friday, Pennsylvania’s former Governor Tom Ridge was featured on MSNBC discussing the fact that he believes banning semi-automatic rifles is just a first step in tackling the issue of gun violence. He refused to say exactly what he would suggest as the next gun control steps, but he made very clear that he supports more controls in order to deal with general crime rates.

The following is from Gov. Ridge’s answer on whether or not he thinks Congress will act quickly to pass a ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms:
I think it will. I think the mood of the nation has changed. I think the fact that they were able to do it back in ’94. And we have to be honest with one another, this is a very important step, but it’s only the first step that the country must take if we’re going to deal with the issue of gun violence. And during the course of this discussion, nobody is talking to those 25-30 people a day who get killed in urban America on one-on-one.

When asked to give advice to President Barack Obama on how he should tackle public policy on guns, Gov. Ridge reiterated his urge to ban firearms:
Assault weapon ban, high capacity weapons, I mean there’s no reason for people to have those. I think it’s important for background checks. … But let’s not kid ourselves, the debate must continue on urban violence, one-on-one violence, culture issues, as well as mental health issues.

Ridge would not volunteer to explain what he defines as a “high capacity weapon” that should be banned. In Connecticut, one newly proposed bill would ban any firearm capable of shooting more than a single round. In New York, lawmakers are arbitrarily reducing the limit to seven rounds, even with an understanding that such sized magazines are not easily available for their law-abiding gun owners. Grandfathering currently owned firearms and magazines has been pushed off the table for many of these proposals. In fact, one Bucks County lawmaker has pledged a bill to ban and confiscate semi-automatic rifles.

If you have not yet done so, it’s important to contact your federal lawmakers now to oppose the many gun control proposals that have already been introduced or soon will be introduced.

Keystone State Anti-Gun Group at White House

According to reports, the Philadelphia-based anti-gun group CeaseFire PA was invited to the White House to share what kinds of gun control proposals they would like to see enacted at the federal level.

At the state level, we know that they are focusing on limiting the number of guns that the law-abiding are allowed to purchase, and they also jumped on board to support to a radio caller’s suggestion that the state ban gun shows on public property. Their policy response has been somewhat muted by the fact that Gov. Tom Corbett made clear that he doesn’t believe that we should ban semi-automatic firearms in response to the Newtown shooting.

Most people watching the policy discussions in Washington, DC expect that any federal proposals will be far more sweeping than their state agenda. The most discussed legislative proposals are magazine bans, bans on semi-automatic rifles, and registration of gun owners who have recently purchased these legal and common firearms.

However, Ceasefire PA and the other groups that have also been asked to the White House are likely going to be asked by the administration to support executive orders issued by President Obama in coming weeks and months to restrict gun rights without the oversight of Congress. The White House is keeping a pretty tight lid on just what they plan to do, but they made clear that Executive Orders were going to be part of their gun control package. We do have a small preview of what their proposals might be based on due to the release under FOIA of documents submitted to the White House by NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun group. However, without the concern of a looming election, it is expected that the White House will propose more broad Executive Orders than those suggested by Bloomberg for his first term.