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Every one of the 50 states has some kind of firearms preemption law to some degree or other. This makes perfect sense, as otherwise each town, county, and local government can enact a local ordinance to invalidate your right to keep and bear arms. You could easily be placed in jail for an inadvertent violation of an ordinance that you never knew existed, just because you crossed an invisible political boundary. Pennsylvania has such a law, and it’s a well thought out example.  There is only one problem; the means to enforce it is weak . . .

To prevent local governments form flouting the rule of law, Pennsylvania has passed a simple revision to their preemption statute: If a local government violates the law, they can be sued, and they have to pay the legal fees of the plaintiff if they lose. Once the suit has been filed, they can’t simply revoke the law and walk away, smug in knowing that they cost those attempting to protect their rights, and without having to pay anything. It is a trick that’s been used successfully in Pennsylvania, but appears to be headed for the dust bin of history.

HB80 started out as HB 2011 and recently passed the House by a vote of 143 to 54. It moved on to the Senate as HB1243 where it passed the Senate 36-14. It originally passed by 32-16 as an amendment to another bill, then later revised to 36-14. Because of the amendment maneuver, HB80 had to have a concurrence vote in the House where it passed again, 138 to 56. It now goes to NRA A-rated Governor Tom Corbett for his signature who said that he will sign the bill.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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44 Responses to Bill Strengthening PA Preemption Passes House, Goes to Gov. Corbett for Signature

  1. As far as firearms friendly states go, PA isn’t bad.
    Nothing banned at the state level, constitutional open carry, cheap and easy to get concealed carry. Always still plenty of room for improvement though.

      • Sadly, that is true (well, sadly for me, being a Texan). It’s kind of a schizophrenic state, almost no restrictions on long guns, and the self–and property–defense laws are highly favorable to the good guys. Grand juries here are likewise generally favorable to armed self-defense, even against the state’s officers in appropriate cases. And the handgun laws have a number of exceptions and non-applicability provisions. But still, CHLs are relatively expensive and time-consuming to obtain, and public open-carry of handguns is essentially prohibited.
        PS–BTW, many thanks to whoever posted (in another thread) : “google adblock plus for[insert name of browser]. Took about two minutes. Whatta difference.

        • As a practical matter, those aren’t all that great an obstacle in Texas, but you’re right, it could be better. CHL is what now? $140? Fingerprints are another $10, the class varies as market price, around $75 or so. Class length was just reduced to 4-6 hours and renewals are online w/o classes now. Should all be constitutional carry and free, but it’s not that bad. We may well get open carry next year, too, so we’re getting better.

        • Sounds marginally better than when I got my CHL–cost me total @ $250 (class and fees), class took two days (8 hours instruction and photos, then “proficiency” shooting the next day) and had to wait 60 days to get the permit thru the mail. I understand what is being proposed is open carry only with the same permit you have to get for CC, I see that as only marginal improvement. but you’re right, it could be much much worse, at least it’s “shall issue”, and state pre-emption. And again, if you actually have to use the piece, the law is more firmly on your side than in a lot of places, even places with looser possession/carry laws. And the overall culture is very gun-friendly.

        • Ridiculous CC and OC laws far outweigh any other positive aspects of gun laws in Texas.

          The laws are akin to being able to own any type of car you want, except that you can’t drive your car in public unless it’s covered with a tarp (misdemeanor).

          And by the way, you can’t drive it to certain stores (misdemeanor) or restaurants (felony).

      • But it is hard to touch Vermont. Only state in the union where “everything goes.” In recent years, they have had either the 4th or 5th lowest homicide (per capita) rate in the nation. No permits for open or concealed carry required. You just can’t be a convicted felon, etc.

        • I don’t know what “everything goes” means, but other states have followed Vermont’s lead by enacting what we call Constitutional Carry. Bennington is a hotspot for anti-gun activities and “Gun Sense Vermont” is spreading the Bloomberg-style bribe money around.

          Take nothing for granted.

        • True, but they still rate the best in the annual 50-states concealed carry guide that’s published annually. By far the most gun friendly state in the nation. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in CO where we have the Hickenlooper machine that bought into the Bloomberg influence. We now have our stupid 15-round magazine restriction that is, well, you know, “reducing crime . . .” :O

        • Hey, Jeff, if the state Republicans can get out the vote, you wont have to worry about Hickenlooper any more.

          Next target — the Gang of Four, who really run the state. Hickenlooper is just their butt-boy.

        • Vermont bans suppressors and PA bans semi auto rifles for hunting. I see hunting laws are the other side of the 2A coin, since they usually go hand in hand.

        • Sorry dude. You can’t apply “anything goes” to a state that bans the posession of silencers.

        • Ralph-unfortunately so far no one with the kind of money the Gang of Four has is showing any willingness to step up and counter their spending. With our current silly election laws, it comes down to a good ground game and beating the margin of fraud.

        • Vermont is skating on thin ice.

          Many Nanny-Staters have invaded over the past few decades and have been imposing their vision of a Utopian Paradise.

          Vermont is 7th from the bottom on the Mercatus Center Freedom Index, and its ranking is on a downward trajectory.

          Freedom in the 50 States – Vermont
          http://freedominthe50states.org/overall/vermont

          Firearms freedom in Vermont looks good today, but there’s been a demographic shift in the state that doesn’t bode well for the 2nd Amendment.

        • the truth of the matter is that homicide rates have zero to do with gun laws, and everything to do with demographics. If and when Vermont’s demographics match high murder-rate states, they will have high murder rates, too.

          the advantage of pro-2nd amendment laws is that they help insulate and protect the law abiding demographics from the thug-on-thug crime in high murder-rate states.

        • Thanks for the info and updates everyone. I wasn’t aware of the suppressor bans in Vermont (something we don’t have in CO). I didn’t realize how much the climate was changing in that state (maybe we need a different kind of “climate change” reform than what the President keeps talking about).

          Ralph, I agree with you about Hickenlooper and his “puppetry.” I also agree with Avid, funding is key. At the same time, I feel the Dems are on the run this time around, and hopefully (I truly mean this as we cannot seem to get everyone to cast their ballots) the elections will play in our favor. All the Dems seem to have are campaigns about Cory & company being “extremists” that want to ban abortion. Polls in recent weeks are starting to indicate that the ads aren’t effective and people are more concerned about actual issues such as: the economy, ISIS threat, and Ebola. It would be nice to see a group in that will repeal the unconstitutional gun laws from last year.

          What is a little irritating, speaking of the election is seeing an LCV Victory Fund add against Cory Gardner playing right underneath where I am typing (and it loves to run the CPU through the roof [even my quad i7]). Seems a little out of place on TTAG.

          We shall see what happens in the next few weeks . . .

      • I must disagree. I am a Pennsylvanian living in TX. I would take TX’s laws any day.

        PA’s ADVANTAGES:
        – Open carry of pistols (but as I will demonstrate this is an illusion)
        – Carry in bars (I think)

        TX’s ADVANTAGES
        – No onerous crappy vehicle carry restrictions. Honestly, navigating what you can and can’t carry in a vehicle and when you can or can’t carry in a vehicle in PA requires a thorough reading of the law. It’s a nonsense requirement that should have been done away with years ago. Ammo locked in a separate container? PA’s vehicle carry laws can bl0w me.

        – Open carry of long arms actual means open carry for everyone. In PA during states of emergency only CCW holders can open carry. That’s when normal everyday people need open carry the most and PA has stripped that from its citizens. In TX to the best of my knowledge we have no such issue. So Pennsylvanians can fair-weather open carry their pistols all day long. The moment they really need to, they’ll get the smack down laid on them by johnny law unless they have a CCW.

        – No restrictions on carry in cities. In PA any “city of the first class” which if I recall is based on population size is a no open carry zone.

        As I said before, I would take TX’s laws over PA’s any day. TX’s gun laws are an inconvenience. PA’s are an affront to liberty. And no state income tax in TX to boot.

        • Philly is the only “city of the first class,” indeed due to population cut-offs. You can open carry in Philly, but you can only do so with a LTCF. Now, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. My guess is, even now (after rounds of litigation and implementation of new training materials), you are still liable to end up on your face with a cop’s knee on your back, or at least held at gunpoint, before a cop would ask you for your license.

        • Open carry in a cityof the first class ( ie, philadelphia) is perfectly legal with a license.

          Handgun carry in a car is perfectly legal with a license.

          Licenses cost $20, and there is no training requirement, only a background check. Most sheriffs issue them the day of application.

          Signs do not have force of law.

  2. Good for them. Philly used to claim the “right” to ban concealed carry even for those with a concealed carry permit. It only allowed those with a CCH to carry open. This created a real problem because even the PPD seemed unaware that CCH holders could legally OC.
    Next step needed is for all states to dump unconstitutional “May issue” and replace with “shall issue.”
    Of course it would be even better if no permit at all was needed to the law abiding to carry however they so chose.
    Only one law would be needed. And every state already has it. It is unlawful for anyone convicted of a violent felony to possess a gun. Why do we need more laws that interfere with the right of the law abiding to protect themselves, particularly given that the police have no duty to protect anyone.

    • I mostly agree with your post. I take exception to the “felony” part, as some really crazy non-violent crap is now a felony. Honestly, if somebody were guilty of securities fraud, I wouldn’t think he should lose his 2nd Amendment rights.

        • agreed. the best predictor of future violent criminal behavior is past violent criminal behavior. those that argue that even violent felons should automatically have their 2nd amendment rights restored after they have served their time are ignoring the stats on recidivism.

      • Concur. Your 2A rights should be suspended while you are incarcerated, not otherwise. If we can’t trust a person with a gun, keep him locked up.

        • I like the felon-in-possession laws, in part, because it takes the guesswork out of exactly that. Felons are free to self-select and volunteer for additional incarceration, by violating the possession law. They identify themselves as being permanently untrustworthy and spare us the expense of locking all of them up for even longer.

          As for those felons who do go straight upon release, I’d be willing to consider restoration of gun rights after a probationary period.

        • yeah right. ignore the facts about recidivism. violent felons should NOT have their 2A rights restored precisely because they are much more likely to commit a violent crime than the random population. Now NON-violent felons, maybe then we could find some common ground on restoring 2A rights.

  3. Corbett will sign the bill. Every state should have this provision in the state law, or should quickly amend it. Over-reaching local town councils, and administrators have taken advantage of gun owners in the past. Even with the Castle Doctrine in PA, even revised and strengthened just a couple years ago, the Philly D.A. still wanted to prosecute a father defending his small son from armed home invaders in the middle of the night.

    • Unfortunately, Not gonna be tight, Wolf is gonna spank Corbett. Corbett has run a pathetic campaign. Wolf is getting all kinds of money from out of state anti-frackers. I’ve done my part and got my two kids going for corbett.

      • its a shame wolf wants to repeal the tax cuts for the frackers, its our fastest growing industry. because of them we actually have people working

        • I don’t think he can do this without the legislature. Unless he is somehow able to use the Obama model. Our prog AG will also probably have a freer hand to cheat now.

          Wolf is also a big Obamacare supporter. I worry about that too. I am currently unsure what he can do in this regard without the legislature on this side. Assuming still the legislature remains in GOP hands. If the legislature slips too, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

      • It’s been tightening up, though I agree it doesn’t look good for Corbett. So we are looking at two years (at least) of a gun control gov paired with a gun control AG. Yuck. No more gains for now, at the very least.

  4. You should see the PR here from the Dems, anti-gunners and the media. It’s being framed as a bill that will allow the NRA to file abusive lawsuits, preventing local governments from protecting their citizens from gun violence. No mention of the fact that the bill is in response to local governments who have abused the existing law.

    • The local press also have been slow to mention that the laws are illegal in the first place, so they mention the bill but not the reason it was created in the first place. They are also focusing on one particular law, viz. the requirement to report lost/stolen firearms. Probably because it sounds so reasonable if you don’t think about it too much. They don’t mention what is perhaps the most important issue for us, namely town-specific prohibitions on carry. Mostly in city/county parks. There’s still a no guns sign at a county park where I hike about once a month, even though they have no legal right to pass this reg. So, I’ve ignored it. Now, though, ignoring it carries much less of a risk. Or it will soon.

      • The local PA paper I saw had a headline something like: “New Law Lets NRA Sue PA townships”
        Just a tad bit biased and misleading :/

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