Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hazle Township update

Since I never received a response to the e-mail I sent to Hazle Twp on June 20th regarding their park rule prohibiting the possession of firearms in the park, fellow PAFOA members Paul Schroeder and Rich Banks (more local to the area than I am) attended a recent Township Supervisors meeting to address the issue again.

The response was typical - We support the 2nd Amendment, but......

  • Supervisor Anthony Matz said he is not opposed to a citizen's right to bear arms, but feels it is neither necessary nor appropriate for anyone to carry a firearm in the community park.
  • Board Chairman William Gallagher said that all three supervisors were gun owners and that no member of the board is opposed to gun ownership, but the board also expressed confidence in the appropriateness of the firearm prohibition at the park.
  • Supervisor Matz said he would not be comfortable being at the park with people carrying firearms.
In the end, Solicitor Charles Pedri said the township will review the ordinance at Schroeder's request and will provide more information at August's meeting.

This story was also covered by WYLN, channel 35 in Hazleton and in print by both the Standard Speaker in Hazleton and the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre.

We'll see what next month's meeting brings.

UPDATE: Apparently the Standard Speaker published an editorial on this issue, but it's not published online anywhere. Here is the text, posted on PAFOA by a local resident.

Two months ago, diners in a Dickson City restaurant were taken aback when a half-dozen customers showed up carrying guns.

Monday night, two pistol-packing men showed up at a Hazle Township supervisors meeting.

In both cases, the gun-carriers were members of the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association.

Paul Schroeder, who took the floor to address the township supervisors Monday, said he was in Hazle Township to protest a firearms ban at a Community Park. "We are not trying to do the wild west thing," he said. "We are just looking to protect our families."

The discussion between Schroeder and the township supervisors-who tried to explain the park policy - remained civil, but some residents in the audience were clearly uneasy.

And who can blame them ? They, and several concerned citizens who called township officials Tuesday, found the idea of gun-toting parkgoers unsettling.

Yes, it is legal to openly carry firearms in Pennsylvania without a license, but even the Firearms Owners Association cautions against pushing that right to extremes.

"There is much debate among firearm owners about whether openly carrying firearms is really a good idea," the group says on its Web site. "While we will leave that choice to the individual we will state that in many urban areas- doing so will draw unwanted attention from law enforcement."

That's exactly what happened in Dickson City, where police asked gun-toting diners for identification. Richard Banks of Fairview Township, refused to provide a driver's license and was detained. Members of the group have sued the borough for compensatory damages and to force the town's police to get training.

In Hazle Township, the supervisors have asked solicitor Charles Pedri to investigate where and when municipalities can legally ban firearms.

Sensible people, even those with NRA membership - should view attention-seeking demonstrations like those in Dickson City and Hazle Township as extreme and even counter-productive. Rather than persuading gun control advocates to their cause, stunts like these are more likely to scare people over to the other side.

If citizens want to scrutinize Community Park regulations, why stop at the gun ban? Why not protest more onerous restrictions, like the park's ban on dogs? If pet lovers follow the firearms owner's example, the next meeting of the townships supervisors might be invaded by 101 Dalmations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those are some awfully big, hairy, cracked butts in the middle of their support for the Bill of Rights.