Gun owners no longer willing to take it lying down

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has long prohibited towns and cities from enforcing local firearm ordinances that impact the ownership, possession, transfer or transport of guns or ammo.

But gun-rights groups have long complained that scores of municipalities ignored the 40-year-old prohibition by passing their own, piecemeal gun control enactments, which rarely got tested in court, The Associated Press reports.

So a new state law went into effect in Pennsylvania at the start of the year, making it easier for gun-rights groups to challenge such illegal local ordinances.

And it seems to be working. Nearly two dozen Pennsylvania municipalities have agreed to get rid of their illegal ordinances rather than face litigation, reports Joshua Prince, an attorney for four pro-gun-rights groups, who cited the new law in putting nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that they would face legal action unless they rescinded their gun edicts.

At least 22 of those municipalities have already repealed them, or indicated they plan to do so, according to Prince.

Under the new state law, gun owners no longer have to prove they’ve been harmed by the local measure, The AP reports. Instead, “membership organizations” like the National Rifle Association can stand in to sue on behalf of any Pennsylvania member, seeking damages.

The Reading City Council indicated in January it intended to repeal laws that ban firing weapons within city limits and require owners to report lost or stolen weapons. Officials said the city couldn’t afford a legal fight.

“We get ourselves in trouble in terms of trying to circumvent a state law,” said Councilman Jeff Waltman. “We’re not going to solve this with a local gun law anyway.”

But so determined are the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster to maintain their unconstitutional gun-control regimes that they’ve sued to overturn the new Pennsylvania law. (While the Second Amendment bars only the federal government from infringing the right to keep and bear arms, the 14th Amendment extends that ban on victim disarmament, applying it to the states, as well.)

The city of Harrisburg also plans to defend its ordinances, claiming they comply with state law. The measures ban gunfire anywhere in the city and weapons possession in city parks. There’s also a reporting requirement for lost or stolen weapons.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse denounced the new state law as representing “a fringe ideological view.”

But “What gives a town or a city the authority to say, ‘We’re in Pennsylvania, but we don’t care about Pennsylvania law?’ It’s laughable,” replied Dave Dalton, founder of American Gun Owners Alliance in the Pocono Mountains, one of the groups represented by attorney Prince.

‘A VERY GOOD DAY FOR GUN OWNERS’

In Richmond, Virginia, in late January, a host of proposed curbs on guns, including a bill that would have required background checks for private firearms purchases and one that would have restored an absurd law restricting handgun purchases to one a month (would limiting buyers to one knife a month reduce stabbings? Motorcycles kill lots of people — should collectors or restorers be limited to buying one a month?) effectively died when they were rejected by the state Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee.

The panel also defeated bills that would have made it a crime to knowingly allow a 4-year-old to handle a gun, and prohibited gun possession by convicted stalkers and by people who are delinquent in child support payments, reports Jim Nolan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The same committee, however, advanced bills that would create a lifetime concealed handgun permit and allow permit carriers to bring their weapons onto school property when there are no school events in progress.

The results on most of the bills were not surprising in the Republican-controlled committee. But those results did not please Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who began the session pushing an ambitious gun control agenda that included universal background checks and further restrictions on purchases and possession.

“I am disappointed to see these common-sense measures to keep Virginians safe fall to special interest politics,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Too many families in Virginia and across the nation have lost loved ones to gun crimes that these proposals could help prevent.”

In fact, gun-grabbers are famous for proposing and enacting laws which clearly would have had no impact on whichever rare and isolated violent crime they choose to cite as their rationale in any given year. Whereas the number of “family loved ones” lost to a tyrant’s “gun violence” in such disarmed slave states as Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, China, and Cambodia in the past century must be counted in the millions.

Just as importantly, note the Virginia governor’s use of focus-group-tested gun-grabber buzz words: “common-sense,” “keep Virginians safe” and “gun crimes.” Let’s put the statement back into regular English, shall we?

“I am disappointed to see these unconstitutional measures to take away the firearms that Virginians might use to keep their families safe from freelance criminals and government tyranny have failed because individual patriotic citizens have spent their own valuable time and money to point out that our system of government was authorized by the people only after the Founders agreed to add a Bill of Rights, which Bill of Rights absolutely guarantees every citizen the right to keep and bear, anywhere, any time, the most powerful arms of military usefulness, precisely to maintain ‘a free state.’”

Surely that’s what Gov. McAuliffe meant to say . . . right?

“It was a very good day for gun owners,” concluded Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

‘IT’S LIKE STANDING UP TO BULLIES’

More than 200 gun-rights activists, most of them carrying firearms, rallied on the steps of Washington’s state Capitol on a Thursday morning in January to protest the expansive background-check law state voters passed in November.

State legislators and other opponents of Initiative 594’s requirement for background checks on all private gun sales and transfers voiced their belief that the new law infringes their constitutional rights, and a handful of the protesters carried long guns into the public viewing gallery of the state House of Representatives just as the morning’s brief floor session ended, reported Derrick Nunnally and Rachel La Corte for The Associated Press.

A series of speakers urged the crowd outside the Capitol to work to build support to repeal Initiative 594. Several I-594 opponents carried signs with messages including “Prosecute criminals not harass us” and “I will not comply” at the chilly morning rally in Olympia.

“Gun owners tend to be a live and let live kind of people,” said Adina Hicks, executive director of Protect Our Gun Rights Washington, one of several groups that organized the rally. “Can’t do that anymore.”

State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, told the rifle-carrying protesters “The right to bear arms is unalienable. It can’t be taken away by a majority vote. It can’t be taken away by the Legislature.

It can’t be taken away by the Supreme Court. God gave us that.”
Garrett Bosworth, 16, of Yakima clutched a hunting rifle as she sat in the House gallery after the outdoor rally ended. “It’s like standing up to bullies,” she said of efforts to fight gun control.

“If you don’t say anything, they’re just going to keep doing it.”

It’s legal to openly carry firearms into the state Capitol and the public viewing galleries above the chamber floors in Olympia, reports The AP’s Mr. Nunnally.

But Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, doesn’t like that. He said the issue of guns in the public gallery — which has no glass separating it from lawmakers on the floor — is something he and his fellow Democratic caucus members have been talking about.

“There are a number of members who are very uncomfortable and feel we should address the issue,” he said.

Gosh, before they were allowed to take office, these lawmakers had to swear an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution — which includes the edict that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” -– as well as their own Washington state Constitution, which states “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired. . . .” Didn’t they?

I wouldn’t be afraid to stand in front of a bunch of typical Americans with firearms in their hands and explain how I interpret those constitutional guarantees. Unless they’re planning to violate their oaths of office, I wonder why Mr. Sullivan and his buddies feel so “uncomfortable”?

Mr. Sullivan noted that people aren’t allowed to bring signs into the Capitol, even though free speech is a First Amendment right. “It points to the fact that we want to be consistent with our rules,” he said.

Now that makes sense. Here’s hoping Mr. Sullivan and his caucus get busy and re-legalize the sign-carrying, right away.

Vin Suprynowicz writes on constitutional rights. He is the author of “Send in the Waco Killers,” “The Ballad of Carl Drega,” “The Black Arrow,” and a new novel, first of a series on the War on Drugs, “The Testament of James.” This column appears in the March 10 edition of “Shotgun News.”

3 Comments to “Gun owners no longer willing to take it lying down”

  1. Gun owners no longer willing to take it lying down | Pro 2nd Amendment Boycott – P2AB Says:

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  2. Reverend Draco Says:

    “I am disappointed to see these common-sense measures to keep Virginians safe fall to special interest politics,” is as assbackwards a statement as I’ve ever heard or read.

    The 2nd Amendment is THE common sense measure, and the special interests are scumbags like McAuliffe, pushing his anti-rights bigotry.

    How do you deal with a bully, in order to increase the odds of him never bullying you again? You take an axe handle to his kneecaps (unless he bullys you with a gun – then you cap his ass).

  3. Sitiasisah Says:

    1. All guns must have a serial nubemr, and a copy of the # must be embedded inside the metal of the gun too so scratching it off won’t make it impossible to identify the gun.2. Handguns must be test fired once by the manufacturer and the bullet stored to create a database of ballistics profiles.3. Guns must be purchased with a $10,000 insurance policy that will be paid to any unjustified victim of the gun. Should the policy have to be paid out (say your kid takes the gun and injurs the neighbors kids), the owner either has to trash the gun or buy a new policy for $100,000 of coverage.4. Gun sales and transfers will go thru dealers via instant background checks. The insurance policy goes with the gun so if you sell your gun on the black market and five years later it turns up in a crime you’re on the hook for illegal sales and have to buy the $100,000 policy on future gun purchases.5. Guns without serial nubemrs, untracked guns etc. would be a serious crime.On the other side:1. No gun databases. The firearm dealer checks the background and provides proof of transfer of the gun but the information will not be saved so you cannot create a database of who has what guns in their homes. You can only prove that the guns found inside a home are legal or illegal. Sort of like how cigarettes or booze has a tax stamp. That proves it was purchased legally but the gov’t doesn’t know you’re buying a little or a lot of the stuff.2. Background pre-clearing’. Register who you are and get a #, unless you get convicted of a violent crime or something like that you can use that # for quick clearing of your purchases or transfers at a reduced or no cost.3. Anti-gun laws voided cross the country. States can decide about concealed carry but cannot make it illegal to have guns in your house provided you followed 1-5 above.4. Assalt weapons, mega-clips etc. can be legalized provided one carries the $100,000 coverage on them.Would it have prevented the Newtown shooting? Probably not, the mother was quite well off and could have easily afforded the insurance and neither her nor the kid had any history that would have caused them to fail a background check. But it would almost certainly frustrate some rampage killings and limit a lot of more mundance gun crime an accidents. I suspect the insurance policies would not cost very much given that most guns almost never end up in crimes or accidents but those who establish a habit of letting their guns get into wrong places the premiums would become steeper (which they should given they would be by definition less responsible gun owners).I don’t get volokh’s concern about costs to lower income gun owners. Look, a gun is a material thing, material things cost money. The nature of money is that the more of it you have, the easier it is to get more material things. Guns aren’t cheap, even the lowest end oens cost a few hundred dollars. If you can’t afford that then you can’t afford a gun. Get a better job or cut back on other spending.

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