PA Bill Number: HR270
Title: A Concurrent Resolution recognizing November 23, 2023, as the "National Day of Mourning" in Pennsylvania.
Description: A Concurrent Resolution recognizing November 23, 2023, as the "National Day of Mourning" in Pennsylvania.
Last Action: Referred to STATE GOVERNMENT
Last Action Date: Nov 30, 2023
FOAC's Weekly Message For Saturday February 19th 2022 :: 02/19/2022
I am writing this week’s installment from the “friendly skies”.
Traveling outside of Pennsylvania makes me appreciate our home State; especially when it comes to being able to arm myself to be able to potentially defend “my son’s daddy”.
In a State that doesn’t recognize a PA LTCF or a permit in the stack of other non-resident permits that fatten my wallet, I am unable to “arm” myself with what I consider to be the most efficient tool of self-defense… my pistol. Even though my pants are a bit looser fitting as I lack my pistol, am I actually “unarmed” and vulnerable?
Your EDC (Everyday Carry) infrastructure must first include a defensive mindset. Mindset is an intangible thing, you can’t put your hands on it. Keeping your eyes open, collecting and PROCESSING information, and making wise decisions about where you place yourself, should be at the top of your priorities… way above the particular “tool of self-defense” that you carry.
A pistol, although the most efficient tool, will not ward off evil. Like one of my educational mentors, Rob Pincus says, “It is not a magic talisman”. With that said, we cannot discount the THOUSANDS of Americans EACH DAY that produce a firearm with the will to use it to defend themselves, and the bad guy goes away. Hey, I’ll take God’s divine providence any time it comes my way, but I cannot count on it. I think it is important to recognize that in those 1000’s of daily cases where Americans produce the firearm and the will to protect themselves, it is likely not the firearm that defuses the situation… it is the WILL TO DEFEND. That WILL is part of the defensive mindset.
Recently, in my own professional development, I have been listening to the teachings of Instructor/Coach Tony Blauer. FEAR can be tremendous motivator, when we know fear and what it does, we can harness it to help us fight. Tony teaches that fear can also trick us into thinking we are not ready. The way to overcome this is to train for success, visualize success, and learn and recognize our own competency. This recognition in “knowing thyself” is part of the defensive mindset. Whether you are carrying a shoot-y tool, a poke-y tool, or a spray-y tool, you must be able to know in your heart that you are capable of using that tool. This is why it is so vitally important to train in as much context as possible, recognize your competency and take opportunities to better yourself, not just with the physical tool, but also with seeing the people in your surroundings, recognizing what they are doing and do all you can to avoid needing your tool to deal with those people.
How many of you have friends that make incredibly poor decisions about where they go, who they go with, and what they do? A firearm is not the “go to” answer for a poor decision. We as humans can make mistakes, but some folks believe the “tool” makes up for a bad choice. For instance, taking a short cut through a crime heavy part of town, where you are more likely to be victimized, BECAUSE you are armed, is a BAD DECISION. Putting on a gun so that you can go to the bar tonight, is a BAD DECISION. Walking past the unsavory dudes hanging out on the sidewalk BECAUSE you are armed is a BAD DECISION. Generally speaking, we have control over where we place ourselves in the world. Most of us don’t have to get gas in the wee hours of the morning. Most of us don’t have to buy lottery tickets at the store that gets robbed weekly. Make good choices about where you go, don’t let the “tool” be the reason you go where you shouldn’t. Safety is not always convenient. Smart “safety conscience” choices are part of the defensive mindset.
Consider first developing a defensive mindset as the primary “thing” in your EDC. Be aware, collect and process information, and make good choices and you will be less likely to need to use whatever tool you have with you.
My Self-Defense Origin Story
By Stephen LaSpina, FOAC-ILLEA Board Member
As a boy, my imagination was captured by all kinds of heroes: special agents, police, superheroes, spies, special forces -- anyone who willingly put themselves between evil and innocents in defense of others. I took special note of the tools these heroes used, and, time and again, they often chose a firearm when confronting evil. I did not grow up around guns, as my family members were not involved or interested in hunting or shooting sports of any kind, so I would not receive any hands-on experience with firearms until I was an adult. But as I observed my childhood heroes, I began to develop a protector mindset, watching for danger and mentally preparing myself to act.
That protector mindset stayed with me into young adulthood. I completed a police internship after graduating high school, and I began speaking with a concealed carry permit holder about their firearm and how they carried it. The reality of evil and criminals was even clearer to me now as an adult, and I wanted to be equipped with the tools I needed should it one day confront my family, friends, or church.
On the afternoon of April 15, 2013, my Dad and I set out to do some casual window-shopping for a handgun. While we were driving, a breaking news report came over the radio announcing a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. As I listened keenly to the emerging details, my resolve to be a protector grew. That casual shopping trip ended with me purchasing a Smith & Wesson 642 revolver, my very first handgun.
That purchase led me to do even more research on firearms, and I became intrigued with small guns so that I could always have one with me. I soon purchased a second firearm, a pocket-sized .380 caliber pistol. One afternoon at the shooting range, a friend brought his GLOCK for me to try. After shooting the much larger GLOCK side-by-side with my two guns, I realized that I was far more competent with his gun than I was with my own. I was able to get more accurate hits at farther distances, and suddenly, my paradigm regarding the size of guns shifted. Why would I carry guns I struggled to be accurate with when there were other guns I performed better with? It was not long before I purchased my very own GLOCK 19, the first of many GLOCK pistols to follow.
I was hungry to learn more and more about this new world of concealed carry. I read articles, books, and watched videos from Personal Defense Network and YouTube. I became obsessed, soaking up everything I could about the world of concealed handguns and self-defense. Before long, my nylon “holsters” were replaced by kydex ones, and my small firearms were relegated to the safe while my GLOCK 19 assumed the mantle of everyday carry. I also began taking weekly classes at a local range, and I even traveled occasionally for full 2-day courses. My gun obsession had become a lifestyle, impacting my choices in wardrobe, the bags I carried, where I sat in public spaces, and more.
About four years into this journey, a realization gradually dawned on me: I could not be with my loved ones all the time in order to protect them. But what if I could teach them how to protect themselves? This was the birth of my desire to instruct others who were beginning their own journeys into the world of firearms and self-defense. In 2017, I became a certified instructor through both the NRA and USCCA.
Today, my self-defense journey continues. I am always reading and growing, adapting my teaching methods, tactics, and gear as I learn. It is a privilege to now teach others and see them become empowered to be their own first responders. My goal is to be a force-multiplier for good: training as many good people as I can to stand in the gap between evil and innocents.
Follow Stephen LaSpina @ https://www.facebook.com/Stephen-LaSpina-2012683275717407/
Commonwealth Court Rules Philadelphia’s Lost/Stolen Firearm Ordinance Unlawful and It’s Prosecution Under It, “Bad Faith and Harassment”
Today, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince in another, in a series, of firearm and ammunition preemption challenges, secured a monumental decision from the Commonwealth Court in Armstrong v. City of Philadelphia, 1204 C.D. 2020, involving the City of Philadelphia’s lost and stolen firearm ordinance, where the Court overturned the trial court’s denial of a permanent injunction and directed the trial court “to enter an order granting a permanent injunction in favor of Rashad T. Armstrong.”
As the decision, spanning 22 pages, declares,
we conclude that Appellant’s right to relief is well established because a straightforward application of our case law interpreting Section 6120(a) leads to the inescapable conclusion that Section 10-838a [the City’s Lost and Stolen Ordinance] is preempted and therefore invalid and unenforceable.
In continuing on to address the balance of harms inquiry, the Court declares, citing to two other preemption victories of Chief Counsel Prince,
our decision in Dillon adequately explained why the balance of harms will always favor the individual in the situation where a municipal entity seeks to enforce an ordinance and/or law that is preempted by Section 6120(a) of the UFA:
The argument that a violation of law can be a benefit to the public is without merit. When the Legislature declares certain conduct to be unlawful it is tantamount in law to calling it injurious to the public. . . .
[T]he [c]ity’s unlawful regulation of the lawful possession of firearms shows that a greater injury will occur by refusing to grant the injunction because . . . the [c]ity’s [o]rdinance is unenforceable; the injunction is reasonably suited to abate the offending activity by enjoining the enforcement of this unlawful and unenforceable ordinance; and the injunction will not adversely affect the public interest because the [c]ity was prohibited from enacting [the ordinance] and the ordinance is, again, unlawful and unenforceable. Dillon, 83 A.3d at 474.
Moreover, in Lower Merion Township, this Court followed and relied upon Dillon in concluding that, per se, the balance of harms will always weigh in favor of the individual when the individual seeks to enjoin a municipal ordinance and/or law that is preempted by Section 6120(a):
The [t]ownship next argues that it would suffer substantial harm if the [o]rdinance was enjoined because it is essential to the safety of [t]ownship residents and to the public’s use and enjoyment of [t]ownship parks. However, contrary to the [t]ownship’s assertion, we have stated that “[w]hen the Legislature declares certain conduct to be unlawful it is tantamount in law to calling it injurious to the public.” Dillon, 83 A.3d at 474.
Thus, we conclude that greater injury would result from refusing an injunction than granting it because refusing an injunction would sanction the [t]ownship’s continued statutory violations of the UFA and, therefore, be injurious to [plaintiffs/petitioners] and the public.
In turning to the third and final prong of a permanent injunction – that an injunction is necessary to avoid an injury that cannot be compensated by damages, or, in other words, the inadequacy of a remedy at law requirement – the Court declares
As a basic proposition, an injunction may issue to enjoin a prosecution when the statute is flagrantly and patently unconstitutional, there has been bad faith or harassment in the enforcement of the statute, and it is possible that the governmental entity will continue with multiple prosecutions for the same offense. [citations omitted]. Here, the facts, procedural history, and legal background of this case establish that the City is attempting to enforce a law that it knew, or reasonably should have known, was unenforceable due to our 2008 decision in Clarke, as well as the preceding and succeeding case law from this Court. Nonetheless, the City pursued this prosecutorial action against Appellant, without making any kind of notable linguistic change to the law it seeks to enforce and was struck down as preempted in Clarke. Also, the City does not make any meaningful argument for a change in the current state of the case law, opting instead to essentially ignore the precedential authority of this Court as if it does not exist. Ultimately, the City’s decision to proceed with prosecution under Section 10-838a, a lost and stolen reporting law, and then incredibly claim that the law is actually a “straw purchaser” law, which, in any event, has also been held to be preempted by this Court, see supra notes 7-8, evidences a form of bad faith and harassment on the part of the City. (emphasis added)
And finally, in conclusion, the Court declares
Therefore, for all these reasons, we conclude that Appellant is entitled to a permanent injunction and that the trial court erred in determining to the contrary.
Unfortunately, in what can only be defined as a call for judicial activism, Judge Leadbetter issued a concurring opinion declaring that while she is in agreement with the majority’s resolution of the matter given the controlling precedent, she “urges” the PA Supreme Court to reconsider its Ortiz decision.
Specifically, Judge Leadbetter declares
It seems to me that the overwhelming blight of gun violence occurring in the City of Philadelphia, of which I believe we can take judicial notice, and the policy issues argued by the City in the case before us, call for a recognition that local conditions may well justify more severe restrictions than are necessary statewide. It is neither just to impose unnecessarily harsh limits in communities where they are not required nor consistent with simple humanity to deny basic safety regulations to citizens who desperately need them. When a child cannot leave his home to walk to the corner of his street without risking the prospect of being caught in a crossfire, we are denying him the most fundamental right, that of life and liberty, and so I would urge our Supreme Court to reconsider the breadth of the Ortiz doctrine1 and allow for local restrictions narrowly tailored to local necessities.
What appears lost on Judge Leadbetter is that more firearm regulation – especially such that re-victimizes a victim of crime, such as a lost and stolen firearm ordinance – will have no impact on crime, when misdemeanor and felony state law provisions no longer dissuade criminals from committing criminal acts, due to liberal district attorneys refusing to prosecute those violators.
More disconcertingly, as the PA Supreme Court’s decision in Ortiz (and later re-affirmed in Hicks) was based on Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and Section 6120 of the Crimes Code, this “urg[ing]” upon the PA Supreme Court is nothing more than a call for judicial activism, as the PA Supreme Court lacks the power to amend the Constitution or rewrite the statutory law. Those are the powers that rest solely with We The People and the General Assembly and one might argue, given Article 1, Section 25, since the rights enumerated in Article 1 – including Section 21 – are “excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate” that no branch of government can regulate, limit, or extinguish those inviolate rights.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful municipal firearm or ammunition regulation or ordinance, contact FICG today to discuss your options.
FOAC-ILLEA answers the call in Westmoreland County
Recently, multiple FOAC members from Westmoreland County, contacted FOAC-ILLEA leadership to inform us of excessive delays in the License to carry process at the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Department. These delays were due to their “appointment only” policy.
The LTCF process has been a little rocky in some PA counties as over the last few years. We have dealt with legitimate health concerns, as well as government overreach, lock downs, house arrests, courthouse closures, Sherriff staffing issues, PA State Police non-statutory “in person”, mug shot photo, and digital signature requirements, and the occasional opportunistic tyrant taking advantage of fear and panic to make it a little harder for Pennsylvanians to exercise their God-Given Right to self-defense.
This issue was dealt with and remedied by adhering to the FOAC-ILLEA mission of education.
FOAC-ILLEA Vice President, Dr. Charles Gallo, reached out to Westmoreland County Sherriff, James Albert to educate him on the issue, explain our concerns, and reiterate the PA Laws in regard to the license to carry process. Dr. Gallo explained that the Sherriff’s current “appointment” policy was indeed an infringement on the ability for Westmoreland County residents to exercise their Rights.
Upon discussing the matter, Sherriff Albert, quickly changed the policy to again accept “walk-ins” and he also pledged to expand the “satellite” licensing program, making the LTCF process available to other Westmoreland County towns. The appointments that are already scheduled will be honored if the applicant wishes, but walk in’s are welcome moving forward.
This is how it should work when there is an issue. If you see an infringement let us know. We will investigate the situation, contact the elected official(s) so that we may educate them. If necessary, we will take further actions if that elected official is unresponsive or tyrannical, but in the case of Westmoreland County Sherriff, James Albert, he was more than eager to address the situation and help his constituents exercise their Right to self-defense.
“If you face just one opponent, and you doubt yourself, you’re out-numbered”
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”
"As I understand, only God can provide a permit in New Jersey... and he isn't recognized in every County."
The Government Sworn To Protect Our Right To Free Speech Takes Steps To Promote Cooperate Censorship Against Legal Gun Building Activities
Senate Democrats Press YouTube to Remove 'Ghost Gun' Videos
From the 2/18/22 NSSF Government Relations Update Newsletter, originally from “The Hill”.
A group of Democratic U.S. Senators who support increased gun control are requesting that YouTube take down videos that show how to assemble home-built firearms. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), wrote to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki expressing their, “… serious concern that YouTube continues to host videos that instruct viewers on how to make and manufacture ghost guns.” A YouTube spokesperson responded, saying YouTube’s policy, “prohibits content instructing viewers on how to make ghost guns or 3D printed guns. This work is ongoing, and our teams will continue to work hard to refine the policies and systems that allow us to quickly detect and remove violative videos.” Home-built firearms have been legal since before the founding of the country.
FOAC-ILLEA Board Member Jim Stoker Presenting at a Concealed Carry Seminar
Concealed Carry Seminars
Did you know that in Pennsylvania Law there are 2 definitions of firearm?
Did you know that the National Firearms Act of 1939 was based upon Pennsylvania’s Gun Laws?
Did you know a firearm could be considered “loaded” even if there is no ammo with it?
Did you know that if you go to the range and stop to get gas on the way home you MIGHT be breaking the law?
Learn about these things and more at one of the upcoming PA Concealed Carry Seminars.
FOAC-ILLEA Upcoming Events
Concealed Carry Seminar – Sponsored by Ambridge District Sportsmen’s Assoc.
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: ADSA Clubhouse
Address: 2900 Ridge Road Extension, Baden PA 15005
FOAC-ILLEA Spring Gun Bash
1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Location: Washington County Fairgrounds,
2151 North Main Street, Washington, PA
Concealed Carry Seminar – Sponsored by Rep. Jason Silvis
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: Huber Hall
Address: 300 Alexandria Street, Latrobe, PA 15650
Concealed Carry Seminar – Sponsored by Rep. Jason Silvis
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: West Leechburg VFD Recreation Hall
Address: 1116 Gosser Street, West Leechburg, PA 15656
The FOAC-ILLEA Spring Gun Bash
The FOAC-ILLEA Spring Gun bash will be here before you know it. The gun bashes are our main fundraisers and the best damn gun bash in Pennsylvania! We print 1,000 tickets and they are on sale now via the website. We have VERY FEW tickets left, so GET YOUR BASH TICKET WHILE YOU STILL CAN. The FOAC-ILLEA gun bash ticket is one of the best on the planet! You do NOT need to be present to win prizes on the ticket, but joining us at the Washington County Fairgrounds, eating the terrific food, enjoying a cool beverage, and fellowshipping with other Liberty-minded Americans is a great time! Purchase your ticket TODAY!
What is Your Technique and Style When Defending the 2nd Amendment?
By FOAC-ILLEA President, Kim Stolfer (originally published 9/7/2019)
For over three decades, and especially in the past months, I have stressed that it is not enough to fight hard for our Second Amendment rights, 2A supporters need to fight smart, too. In today’s very hostile media climate, the approach we use in defending our rights will define how we are ‘all’ viewed by our fellow Americans.
When Beto O’Rourke and Eric Swalwell talk about mandatory buybacks (confiscation!) of modern multi-purpose semi-automatic firearms, they seek to perpetrate an injustice in the form of punishing millions of Americans who did nothing wrong by infringing on their rights.
They are in the wrong, along with Everytown for Gun Safety, Michael Bloomberg, March for Our Lives, the Brady Campaign, and other anti-Second Amendment groups and politicians.
Those who have stood against the injustices that those groups seek to inflict on law-abiding Americans, like the NRA, and other pro-Second Amendment groups, are in the right by defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
So, I’d like to conduct a little role-playing exercise and have you put yourself in the position of a suburban parent. They don’t own guns, they work, they take their kids to school and soccer games, and their knowledge of Second Amendment issues is often what is in the local paper and the news. You’re a neighbor they’ve been on friendly terms with, and maybe they’ve seen you wearing a FOAC hat or noticed something that reveals your Second Amendment support. I’ll post two responses to a possible question or statement they might ask or make. Then ask yourself which one would be more likely to convince YOU to support the Second Amendment.
“That school shooting was horrible, why did it happen?”
- “People – real, live, allegedly lucid people – actually believe that this ‘shooting’ was real? Wow. That is difficult to believe. Just watch a single one of the interviews of the crisis actors involved and tell me with a straight face that the person has just witnessed about a dozen people being gunned down.”
- “I think wild guesses about what caused this won’t do anybody any good. In past situations it has always been shown that there were failures on the part of government to stop the killer with existing laws. However, I still feel it’s better to wait for the facts to find out what happened in this case. Right now, I’m just keeping the victims in my prayers.”
“Some Congressman wants to ban assault rifles and require people to turn them in. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
- “From my cold dead hands.”
- “What he is proposing is the infliction of a massive injustice on millions of Americans who had nothing to do with this or any other shooting by infringing on their rights. Justice Department statistics show that rifles of all types are used in murders less often than clubs, bare hands, or knives. These rifles are also used frequently in self-defense situations, especially in emergency situations.”
“What is so bad about a red flag law?”
- “This American ain’t surrendering anything!”
- “The problem is that many of the proposals have serious problems, including a lack of due process and the failure to require those who are subjected to extreme risk orders to receive mental health treatment. In addition, civil commitment is another legal option on the books for individuals who are a threat to themselves or others in all 50 states. Sadly, those currently in office are unable or unwilling to use that option as well. But they are almost immediately demanding new laws in the wake of these tragedies.”
“But how can we address gun violence?”
- “Could you please kindly pull your head out of your butt, STFU and go away…. pretty please?”
- “There are solutions. We could enforce existing laws on the books to put away people with criminal records that illegally possess firearms. We can use harsh sentences for those who misuse guns in the course of committing crimes. We also support better policing. All too often, these tragedies can be prevented with tools that are available, but which those currently in office are unable or unwilling to use. Yet they are always demanding new laws on guns that target law-abiding citizens.”
“Why do you oppose universal background checks?”
- “Get your skull out of your backside and start standing firm on the constitution and the Second Amendment as written.”
- “Because background checks have not worked to prevent crime. Justice Department studies show that criminals acquire their guns illegally, usually through straw purchases, theft, or the black market. And mass shooters often pass background checks. Furthermore, in the past, anti-Second Amendment groups opposed instant background checks in favor of waiting periods.”
“So why do you oppose a license and registration for guns when we need a license to drive a car?”
- “Every one of these schemes are just a way to infringe and violate the Second Amendment rights of citizens.”
- “Licensing and registration schemes only would apply to law-abiding citizens. Courts have ruled that those prohibited from owning guns cannot be required to register guns, because it would violate their right against self-incrimination. In any case, criminals break the law to acquire their guns, usually through theft, straw purchases, or on the black market. Furthermore, some of the initial licensing laws, like New York’s Sullivan Act, were intended to deny Irish and Italian immigrants the right to have handguns for personal protection. Furthermore, many groups seeking gun control want registration in order to facilitate confiscation – which would be a massive injustice against millions of law-abiding Americans who have committed no crime.”
Again, I would encourage all gun owners to compare these responses, placing themselves in the position of a fellow American who is on the fence, or leaning toward backing anti-Second Amendment legislation. Ask yourself, “Which response is more likely to make me more willing back the Second Amendment, or at least be willing to hear more?” Once you have come up with the answer, act accordingly.
Be ambassadors of the 2nd Amendment and Article 1 Section 21 of the PA Constitution. Help to educate our fellow Pennsylvanians, those that live next door, and those who represent you in Harrisburg. Get involved! I would like to quote Tim Schmidt, founder of the United States Concealed Carry Association; “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” If each of us did something to further the cause of Liberty, imagine what we can achieve!
Stay Armed and Be Well Regulated!
Yours Most Respectfully,