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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My friend recently wrote this "article" on handgun carry laws. It is specific to Pennsylvania firearms laws, but I'm sure other state constitutions are similar to PA. Either way, he wants it spread around and I got his permission to post it here. Enjoy.

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My Dilemma

I finally did it! For years I had been wanting to buy a handgun for personal protection and last fall it happened! I felt safer but I did not want to advertise the fact that I carried it. I knew that I had the right to carry it openly but that made me, and probably everyone around me, a little uncomfortable. I did not want to be a target. Alas! I would have to get a permit to carry it concealed. I already had the application before I purchased the gun, so I sat down and read it carefully. I needed two personal references, had to pay a small fee, and would be interviewed. Wait! Doesn’t the Pennsylvania Constitution say I can carry it without question? I scheduled an appointment with my state representative to get a clarification and a copy of the Constitution. Sure enough, there it was in black and white.

“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.(Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, Section 21)”

If it was my right, why was I being questioned (interviewed)? Also, if it was my right, why was I being charged a fee? Would that not make it a privilege? Since when do we have to pay for rights? Would I not have the right to carry openly or concealed? The Constitution did not specify. Those were good questions my representative told me and I would have to get the answers from the man who wanted to interview me- my sheriff. So I did.

I stopped in to the sheriff’s office and he confirmed that, yes, I did need a permit to carry it concealed. So I got another application, this one more detailed and updated I presume. It seemed a little daunting. I would take it home and read it and fill it out at my leisure. In his office, he reiterated that I could carry openly, but not in my automobile. In my car, the gun would have to be broken down or the ammunition stored in a separate secure place, such as the trunk or locked glove compartment. What good would the gun do me then? Suddenly I didn’t feel so safe. He went on to explain that if I were stopped by a police officer and the loaded gun was in the car (even in plain sight) and I did not have a permit to carry it concealed, that I could or would be charged with a felony! Even if the gun was holstered openly on my side, I could still be charged! Whoa! I asked, “What if I put a sticker on my driver’s side window that says that I have a gun?” He said it did not matter, I could still be charged as a felon. So much for my right to bear arms without question!!! I was incredulous! How could this be? I was safe and legal outside my car but not inside without a permit.

I asked about carrying to and from my church without a permit. As long as I carried openly, I was legal (of course, not inside my car). If my suit jacket inadvertently covered my gun, I was now illegal. My mind floated back to the record of one of the early public hangings in my county. A man was hung for raping and murdering a young Sunday School teacher on her way to church one Sunday morning. As a matter of fact, according to local historians, my church was started by people who were tired of being robbed on their way to and from church or of returning home to find it burglarized! I wonder if things would have been different if, instead of starting a church closer to home, they had packed some “heat” (of course, not inside their buggies). I also wondered if the Amish had rethought their pacifism in light of the horrific schoolhouse shooting. No matter, without that coveted permit, armed protection in my car could make me a felon! I was in a quandary! I felt like a potential hostage by both thieves and the State. Who would likely stop me first? The answer was clear! I would have to think on this issue some more. I didn’t want to stop going to church.

I thanked the sheriff. He gave me a manual entitled, Pennsylvania Laws Relating to Firearms, the same one that my representative gave me. I read it at home. Wow! What a task! The table of contents alone is eight pages! The manual is one hundred twenty three pages of (you guessed it) LEGALESE! Buried deep within the manual was a section entitled ‘Athletics and Sports’. Now this caught my eye (I love to play soccer) but what do sports have to do with firearms? I read on: “The [State Athletic] Commission shall not issue athlete agent registration of a person who has been convicted of any of the following offenses…” It listed twenty six offenses (most of which had nothing to do with firearms) but the second one on the list related to offensive weapons so I guess it filled the bill. I figured I was safe since I wasn’t an athlete agent nor had I ever carried a weapon to a game. I did, however, think of the soccer mom who, fearing for her life, carried a gun to her child’s soccer games. She unnerved the other soccer parents who criticized her actions. I guess she silenced (no pun intended) her critics when, sometime later, her estranged husband shot her dead. I do not want to die to prove my point.

I thought of Bernard Getz, the subway-riding New Yorker, who got tired of being mugged (several times I’m told) and started carrying a gun concealed. When it happened again, he shot two of his six knife-wielding assailants dead. Poor Bernie was jailed for two years, I believe, for firearm violations. It seems New York doesn’t want you to protect yourself, just roll over and die. Being about Bernie’ s size and build, I fully understand how Mr. Getz felt. While in college, I was jumped by two men. I had a little more Providential intervention but nonetheless it was intimidating.

Another section that intrigued me was: ‘failure to report injuries by firearm or criminal act’ (5106) Apparently physicians and other health care workers commit a summary offense if they fail to immediately notify authorities of a patient’s injuries inflicted by a deadly weapon. The exception is for adult patients who are injured by a person who is acting as their spouse or live-in lover and they refuse to consent to the report after they have been informed of victim services being available. Think about that the next time you rare in the emergency room of your local hospital, bleeding, and there are no doctors to be found (been there, done that!). perhaps they are filling out forms or calling authorities about yours or someone else’s injuries. Will they soon be classified by rank such as Sergeant or Lieutenant? Will they someday have to have special wound training such as how to recognize deadly weapon wounds, or will they take the victim’s word? The State doesn’t trust us, why should the doctors?

As I perused through the application and instructions, I was struck by the huge size of the print, all capital letters and underlined, to read carefully as I would be signing a legal document and any false information would (not may) result in prosecution. That gave me cause for concern. I also noticed that it was called an application for a Pennsylvania license to carry firearms. Huh? I didn’t need a license to carry a firearm. I thought I already had that right. What I needed was a ‘permit’ to carry my gun concealed. Wouldn’t you think on a legal document that could produce prosecution that someone would get the wording correct? One of the blanks on the form asked for my Social Security Number stating that it was optional but would help prevent misidentification. It is common knowledge that Social Security numbers cannot be used for identification purposes. Just to be sure, I took out my 35 plus year old SS car and there on the bottom in capital letters it read: NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION. The Privacy Act of 1974 makes it unlawful for any Federal, State, or Local Government Agency to deny any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by Law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his Social Security Account Number. The sheriff assured me on the form that disclosure was purely VOLUNTARY, however, my failure to provide my SSN mandated by law or take a much longer time to process. Would the Pennsylvania State Police commit an unlawful act by denying me a “right, benefit, or privilege provided by Law”? I would hope not! Or are they just trying to strong arm me into giving my Social Security Number? Again I would hope not, but I wonder.

All this reading and pondering has given me a headache and I’m hungry. I think I will strap on my ‘six shooter’ and go for a burger. Oh, I can’t go in my car or I will be a felon and it is too far to walk. I guess I’ll stay home and order a pizza. Now where did I leave my manual on Preparation and Delivery of Food Substances?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
If anyone has any trouble reading it. I will be back home later to put the correct spacing in and stuff, just to make it a little easier to read and not run on so much.
 
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