PA Bill Number: HB726
Title: In sentencing, further providing for sentences for offenses committed with firearms.
Description: In sentencing, further providing for sentences for offenses committed with firearms. ...
Last Action: Referred to JUDICIARY
Last Action Date: Jan 23, 2020
Firearms Seminar hosted by PA Rep. Mike Puskaric - 01/25/2020
Carrick Sportsmen’s Club 3301 Ridge Road, South Park, PA
Keep Cook Rally - 01/25/2020
Valley Inn Social Hall 34 Snyder Avenue, Monongahela, PA
Concealed Carry Education Seminar hosted by PA Senator Doug Mastriano - 01/25/2020
South Mountain Fish and Game Club 11547 Loop Road, Fayetteville, PA
FOAC's Weekly Message For Sunday December 1st 2019 :: 12/01/2019
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I was able to watch one of my favorite movies, The Last Samurai, which I highly recommend! In watching it again, I was struck by the similarity between the theme in the movie and our current struggles in our society; we are experiencing a clash of two cultures. In the movie, the Samurai are facing a movement to brush aside traditional values in favor of the new modern era and not only government but also military affairs. The concepts that the Samurai faced in this era, we now face today in America! We are at risk of losing our cultural heritage of basic freedoms, limited government, accountability for one’s actions, everything that has made America great and the most powerful nation in the world!
Just like the characters in this movie, we, gunowners, face enormous challenges that will test our resolve in defending the very basic freedoms that all of us hold dear. Throughout the history of our world every culture and nation has faced challenges similar to what is before us today, many have succumbed to the pressures of that time. It will be up to each of us to rise to this challenge for if we falter in our determination to protect who we are then time will judge us harshly! I’m reminded of the comment by Benjamin Franklin at the conclusion of the deliberations for our Constitution wherein he said on September 18, 1787, to Mrs. Powel, who anxiously awaited the results, wherein she asked him directly: "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic if you can keep it" responded Ben Franklin. So many amongst us do not even seem to understand the differences between a democracy and a Republic that, after watching the last samurai, I feel concerned as to whether or not we have enough true Americans who believe in Freedom left!
Freedom On Trial
In considering whether or not we have a Republic and what that means for freedom and justice, I would like to put that in context with one issue that seems to continually percolate at the state and federal level: Red Flag Laws!
So often in public policy, we experience individuals who take a position that we should try this or that gun control law or restriction because it “might” work. That seems to be the case with these Red Flag Laws.
When you have to ask for a right, it ceases to be a right and becomes a privilege. And privileges, like freedom, can be taken away. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and it cannot, constitutionally, be taken away. So-called red flag laws are an attempt to do just that, demote the “right” of the people to bear arms to a mere privilege. Championed by left-wing politicos who would prefer we view the Bill of Rights, not as a sacrosanct guarantee of individual liberty, but rather as an à la carte menu of daily preferences, red flag laws are, although often well-intentioned, ill-conceived reactionary surrenders of our Constitutional liberty. It would be both curious and dangerous to see exactly how many other “rights” and liberties they truly believe are subject to such daily whims.
As you know, Red flag laws allow individual judges to issue orders allowing law enforcement to seize firearms from American citizens, not on the basis of any committed crime, but rather, based solely on the beliefs of others. Red flag laws allow for ex-parte hearings, that is, proceedings without the accused even being present to defend him or herself. Red flag laws require the accused to appear before a court, after an order has been issued, and make an argument in defense of their rights. The accused must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a judge who may or may not be friendly to 2nd Amendment rights, that they should be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights. Most importantly, red flag laws are ripe for abuse in any number of fashions. Red flag laws create an undue burden on citizens to prove that they are entitled to exercise their constitutional rights.
How many ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-husbands, or ex-wives can easily abuse red flag laws? How many constitutional rights are red flag law proponents willing to submit to arbitrary review by judges? What if red flag laws were applied to other situations of life or death, say abortion? Proponents of red flags laws regarding 2nd Amendment rights argue, absent evidence, that without them someone may die. If we applied the same reasoning to abortion rights, absent red flag laws for abortion, someone will die.
Suppose we apply red flag laws to abortion. Should an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, parent, or friend be able to petition a judge to halt an abortion? Clearly, the decision to have an abortion is a highly emotional one, would it be so bad for a judge to halt the procedure, just long enough to make sure that the subject woman is acting rationally? Should we allow an ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, parent, or school counselor to make the red flag abortion petition ex-parte? Would pro-choice advocates feel comfortable that a judge hearing the red flag abortion petition could keep his or her personal and political feelings out of the ruling? Would a woman feel, in such circumstances, that abortion was no longer a right but a privilege?
Constitutional rights are guaranteed to all citizens. They are NOT privileges that can be taken away arbitrarily or capriciously. Proponents of red flag gun laws are comfortable with a judge deciding when an individual can exercise his or her 2nd Amendment rights. Red flag laws are simply an unconstitutional burden on rights and, as Benjamin Franklin put it, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Can the CDC Be Trusted? A Legacy of Botched Investigations from Guns to The So-Called Vaping Epidemic
It should have been obvious to CDC that regular e-cigarettes were not and could not have been causing these illnesses. Commercial nicotine e-cigarettes have been on the American and European markets for more than a decade and are used by tens of millions of people.
Vapers may be new to this, but some of us are not.
Heads Should Roll at CDC after Botched Vaping Investigation
There are millions of people vaping millions of cartridges every day in America. Yet only recently did people start experiencing the symptomatic lung damage. And those people were only a tiny fraction of one percent of users.
It seemed incredibly transparent to me that all of this was being driven by the political underpinnings of the CDC and because I’ve seen it all before.
It was deliberate anti-vaping propaganda and activism, not an investigation. It was no more “botched” than the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, aka Project Gunwalker, “accidentally” let arms slip across the southern border, justifying calls for more gun control.
The CDC did exactly the same thing with firearms, that they did with these vaping illnesses. Just as they - publicly - ignored the fact that millions of people and cartridges were involved in the “epidemic,” they pretended that all the millions of firearms and all the millions of gun owners were the “gun violence” problem.
The CDC pushed for more controls on the rights of millions of honest citizens, instead of focusing on the well-known small number of specific sectors of society who were committing all that violence. The CDC has always put political agendas ahead of real research.
It was this very same kind of manipulated political abuse by the CDC that led to the 1996 Dickey Amendment, forbidding the CDC using taxpayer money on gun control activism and schemes.
Of course, the anti-gun groups falsely paint the Dickey Amendment as a ban on firearms research. But it did not stop even CDC research (much less the millions in funding to other organizations). It turns out the CDC continued to study things like defensive guns uses.
They just didn’t publish when the real data didn’t support the “gun” control agenda.
It seems appropriate at this time for a more general amendment regarding the CDC’s continued political activism.
Second Amendment Sanctuaries: Does the Rhetoric Match Reality
Politicians in a growing number of local governments are claiming to have created “2nd Amendment Sanctuaries.” But, so far, they've missed the mark by a wide margin.
Contrary to the rhetoric being spread in support of these efforts, virtually none of these jurisdictions have passed laws equivalent to even the most modest immigration "sanctuary city" policy. In fact, most of them aren’t passing laws at all.
While there is no concrete, legal definition of a sanctuary city, when it comes to immigration, the generally-accepted view is that the local government refuses to participate in the enforcement of a narrow to wide range of federal immigration laws.
In reviewing recently-passed “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” measures in Texas, Illinois, Oregon, Florida, Arizona and elsewhere, none of them prohibit any local government employees from using funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal or even state gun laws or regulations. And other than a few outliers, almost none of them have passed any laws at all, despite making public claims to have created a “sanctuary” for gun owners.
In Hood County, Texas, for example, Sheriff Roger Deeds has been outspoken in recent months about his desire for a sanctuary there, and the Commissioners Court obliged by unanimously passing a resolution sponsored by Commissioner James Deaver.
It specifically declares Hood to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County,” and states that it will not “appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, building, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing a law that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of people to keep and bear arms.”
The problem with this effort, and for those claiming to have created a sanctuary for gun owners, is the fact that Hood County passed a resolution — not an ordinance.
According to the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center (TMCEC), local governing bodies make law by passing an ordinance. A resolution “does not have the force of law” and is used as “an expression of an opinion of the legislative body.”
Despite Hood County’s claim to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County,” its resolution doesn’t stop the enforcement of any gun measure. It is merely the opinion of those who voted to pass it — and nothing more.
This problem isn’t exclusive to Hood County.
This doesn't mean that resolutions don't have a place in a strategy to defend the right to keep and bear arms. Thomas Jefferson famously drafted resolutions in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Kentucky legislature passed them in November, 1798. But supporters there didn't claim they nullified the hated federal acts, even though they called on all states to do just that.
In Oregon, where voters last November passed eight county-level “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances” rather than mere resolutions, the laws only prohibit the use of local resources for the enforcement of gun laws or regulations if it’s first determined that they are unconstitutional.
In other words, enforcement assistance continues until a law or regulation is struck down.
That approach is the exact opposite of what’s happening in San Francisco and other immigration sanctuaries around the country.
While those cities have drawn a growing ire from many conservatives and republicans, it’s almost certain these self-styled Second Amendment Sanctuaries won’t get the same treatment from their ideological opponents unless they dramatically change their strategy and pass laws that actually do something.
Why Refusal to Comply with Gun Laws Will Not Work on Its Own
One of the constant statements that comes from some Second Amendment supporters is “We will not comply” when it comes to anti-Second Amendment legislation. If we want to look at a classic case of strategic incompetence, this is one of the worst and it feeds right into the Everytown strategy. This organization is working hard to demonize Second Amendment supporters – and they are constantly looking for any hook to do so. So, Second Amendment supporters cannot just fight hard, they must fight smart and we have to keep in mind how the techniques and approach they use come across.
Civil disobedience is a tool that should be reserved into the category of “tool of last resort”. At this time, we still have a chance to make the case to the American people. We have the facts on our side. We have the historical record on our side. We won’t convince Moms Demand Action or Cease-Fire PA – but then again, the story of Dan Gross, formerly of the Brady Campaign, cannot be discounted.
Gross was not swayed by angry refusals to comply with anti-Second Amendment laws, or other, similar rhetoric that some self-appointed Second Amendment commissars demand of people so as to be deemed sufficiently pro-Second Amendment. What persuaded him instead was the fact that his purported allies – like Everytown – seemed more interested in demonizing gun owners than in saving lives.
There may be a time when massive, nationwide, civil disobedience becomes necessary. That said, Second Amendment supporters have the ability and the obligation to do everything possible to avoid the necessity of civil disobedience, or should that need arise, to make it clear that Second Amendment supporters were driven to it by the irrationality and abuses of anti-Second Amendment extremists.
Legal Logic Misses the Target in Missouri: Judge Rules "Safety" Overrides 2nd Amendment
A Democrat Missouri District Court judge, appointed after the lawsuit was filed, has ruled the lawsuit against the University of Missouri for violating the new Missouri Constitutional provision protecting the right to keep and bear arms, does not apply to the University. The judge claims he followed the requirements for “strict scrutiny” when he did so.
On August 5, 2014, the citizens of Missouri passed a Constitutional amendment to strengthen the protection of the right to keep and bear arms in Missouri. From ballotpedia.org:
That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those duly adjudged mentally infirm by a court of competent jurisdiction.
On 19 September 2015, Professor of law Royce Barondes filed a lawsuit, based on the new amendment, challenging the complete ban of firearms on the University of Missouri campus, except for those granted special privileges by the University administration.
On April 22, 2016, Democrat Governor Nixon appointed Democrat politician Jeff Harris to the position of judge in the 13th Circuit. Harris was Governor Nixon's policy director at the time of his appointment.
Three successive Missouri Attorney Generals have weighed in on the case in support of Professor Barondes position. On 18 November 2019, Judge Harris issued an opinion that the University rule banning all guns on campus, except for those granted the privilege by the University administration, was Constitutional under the Constitution of the state of Missouri. Judge Harris relied on the testimony of two University police chiefs for most of his ruling. From the opinion:
Based largely on the testimony from law enforcement, the Court finds that the Rule satisfies strict scrutiny and is constitutional. The University presented unambiguous and essentially unrebutted testimony in support of the Rule from two police chiefs with nearly 70 years of law enforcement experience, backed by statistical evidence.
In the opinion, there did not seem to be any reference to any statistical evidence presented by the University police chiefs. It appears they simply presented their opinions. The University cited statistical claims made by anti-Second Amendment partisan Dr. John Donohue.
There are several bizarre claims made in the opinion by Judge Harris.
The Judge writes that banning firearms possession from all but those in approved programs or persons in the line of duty, is less restrictive than banning felons from possession, even though banning possession of firearms by felons is explicitly allowed by the Missouri amendment.
The Judge writes that minimizing theft on its property, including theft of firearms, is a “compelling interest”. By this standard, the University would be authorized to prohibit all private property on its campus. That would minimize the theft of private property.
The Judge writes, citing a federal case, that the right to arms is less protected outside the home than inside.
The case will likely be appealed.
Homemade Guns, California School Murders, How Gun Control Fails in the Most Restrictive Environments
Perhaps you’ve already noticed that shortly after the murders at the Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, the news coverage has evaporated and died away.
It appears that the facts about the case did not fit the media narrative in the push for more gun control laws to further restrict Second Amendment rights. California already has the most restrictive laws on gun ownership, sale, possession, and carry in the United States.
A clue to the avoidance of media attention: the police did not announce the model or make of gun. It was not an AR15, as that would have been useful to the infringement narrative.
Those thoughts were verified by Los Angeles County Sheriff Villanueva released the information the .45 semi-automatic pistol was homemade. From foxnews.com:
Ghost guns are a growing problem for law enforcement. The parts are relatively easy to obtain and the guns do not take much expertise to build. So even though California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, they are only based on traditional firearms made by manufacturers where ownership can easily be traced.
In Southern California, one-third of all firearms seized are ghost guns.
“Congress and state legislatures enact all these crimes about gun registration but now the gun industry is creating a way to just bypass the entire thing by creating a mechanism to manufacture weapons yourself,” Villanueva said.
People have been making their own guns for hundreds of years. It has always been legal to make your own gun in the United States. For there to be a functional right to keep and bear arms in the United States, there has to be a right to access arms. One of the most fundamental rights to access is the right to make your own.
It was only recently that some jurisdictions, such as California, have placed infringements on the right to make your own guns.
The reason is clear. As governments place more and more infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, particularly on the right to buy and sell those arms, people respond by making their own. The more draconian the restrictions, the more people resort to making their own. The number stated by Sheriff Villanueva is amazing. He claims one-third of all firearms seized are homemade.
This is happening in the United States with more than 400 million factory manufactured guns in circulation, where there are, conservatively estimated, forty billion rounds of ammunition stored in homes, garages, and closets all over the country. This is happening in a state with long, porous borders, and no effective border control.
This is happening in a state where, for the price of a family's four-day vacation to Disneyland, one can buy the Chinese drill presses, lathes, milling machines, and 3D printers to set up a small shop in a garage to produce a few homemade firearms every week. This method of production was commonly used in Europe circa 1900. The machinery today is easier to use. The power is relatively reliable, even in Southern California. The materials are easier to procure. Plans for making such guns are easily accessible online. Online how-to videos are common.
If one-third of firearms used in crime are homemade in Southern California, the attempt to lower crime rates with infringements such as gun registration, bans on certain types of pistols, background checks for ammunition, and waiting periods, are futile. It is not the Second Amendment that bans various restrictions from lowering violent crime.
Firearms are commonly produced in countries where personal freedoms to access information, materials, and machinery are far more restricted than are allowed by the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.
They are commonly found in Australia, where the authorities admit 10% of guns confiscated are homemade; in Brazil, Canada, China, India, Israel, and the Philippines, and wherever onerous controls are imposed on the acquisition and ownership of arms. A video of these Filipino backyard gun workshops is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=Fna9WEO6BjE&feature=emb_logo
Semi-automatic and full-auto firearms are made in crude, small shops for sale in the black market all over the world. They are made in places with far less access to machinery and technology than Southern California.
The modern history of over 160 years of gun control in the world shows there is no relationship between legal firearms ownership, illegal firearms ownership, and levels of violent crime.
One of the major reasons violent crime is not reduced is that guns are fairly easily made and are thus relatively easily available on black markets. They are at least a 500-year-old technology. “Modern” firearms are over 160 years old. Semi-automatic rifles and pistols have been commercially available in the United States for over 110 years. The technology for making guns has kept pace and is well within the purchasing power of a hobbyist or low-level criminal.
Modern ammunition has a shelf life of at least 100 years.
Physics and chemistry limit the effectiveness of gun control, NOT the Second Amendment.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Filipino Gun Industry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=Fna9WEO6BjE&feature=emb_logo
Anti-Gun Quote of the Week: From Gabrielle Blair: I know you truly believe that you’ll need to defend your family at gunpoint. You need to let that go. Statistically it’s just not going to happen. I know it’s boring, but if you want to protect your family, things like seatbelts, fire alarms, and life insurance are your best bet.
1st Point to Ponder: German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Bundestag recently to warn the German parliament about the dangers of free speech.
. . . . . .
“But freedom of expression has its limits,” Merkel warned. “Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”
2nd Point to Ponder: Colorado’s law enforcement and courts are gearing up to implement the new [ed. Note: Red Flag] law that would allow the state to temporarily take guns from people deemed extreme safety risks…….
The law has earned the scorn of a number of Colorado county sheriffs who said it violates residents’ constitutional right to bear arms and cited fears about false reports leading to gun confiscation.
3rd Point to Ponder: It appears that even in the UK truly dangerous criminals are released by the government early (just like here in the US) as is evidenced by the ‘stabbings in London’ - Khan was out of jail on licence is quite disturbing. He was not just some armed robber or major drug-dealer, criminals who might expect to be released after five, six or seven years in jail. No, he was a traitor to his country, a man who was born here and yet who plotted to unleash violent jihadism on his fellow citizens, whom he referred to as ‘kuffars’ and ‘dogs’.
Founding Father’s Statement on Freedom: "Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rests the happiness and Liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." -- Joseph Warren (1775)
Yours in Freedom!
Kim Stolfer, President
As a reminder, every gun owner can participate in the December 8, 2019 FOAC Monthly meeting from any PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android phone by clicking on the link below:
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/156448331
One-tap Mobile: US: +19292056099,, 156448331# US (New York)
Dial by location: +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 156 448 331
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adSioEAVyf