Sunday, December 7, 2008

Coming soon - New places to carry your firearm!

Despite an ongoing buzz for almost a year now, it occurred to me that some of my blog readers may still not be aware of some soon-to-happen changes, both in Pa. and nationwide.

As of December 17, it will be legal to carry a concealed weapon (if licensed) in Pa. State Parks. As we've seen before, the final language of the statute is a bit murky, so it's unclear if open carry is permissible, even for licensed individuals. This may end up being answered in court at some point, if two stubborn parties with opposing views cross paths. In the mean time, we've gained at least a small step in the right direction.

Further, there has been a debate for quite some time concerning the concealed carry of firearms on National Park lands. The decision has been made, and will take effect as soon as it is officially published in the federal register. No estimated date on that yet.

For National Park lands, individuals appropriately licensed, will be permitted to legally carry a concealed firearm while on National Park lands. This applies only outdoors. Federal buildings remain off limits per 18 U.S.C. 930, and would literally take an act of Congress to change. It's beyond the scope of the Department of Interior. Open carry (licensed or not) is still prohibited, but the rule only requires that an individual "must have actual authority to possess those loaded and concealed firearm under state law", so persons exempt from licensing under Pa. law can still legally take advantage of that exemption on National Park lands.

Unfortunately, our own state legislature did not grasp this concept, extending the new permission in State Parks only to "Licensees" or law enforcement officers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008 gets a facelift

We are pleased to announce the roll-out of a new design for Pa Open Carry as well as to publicly introduce our new forum. The forums at are not intended to be a substitute for any other existing forum.

We recognize the wide appeal of as a national resource for the open carry movement as well as the comprehensive collection of information made available by the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association, on just about any topic even slightly connected to firearms. We hope that we can fill a smaller niche that both of these other forums address on a broader scale.

Our goal with this new forum is to more directly focus on encouraging 'activism' as issues related to OC in Pennsylvania become known. We certainly do not intend to exclude other issues that need addressed simply because OC was not involved, but recognize that many such issues are avoided simply because the presence of a firearm is never discovered.

Please stop by PA Open Carry and take a look around. While you're there, be sure to sign up on our forum and tell us what you think of the new design.

Rich Banks & Greg Rotz

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Brady Campaign rides to Sheriff DeLeo's defense

I've just received word that the Brady Campaign has offered two attorneys to assist the defendants in Meleanie Hain's civil rights suit. Interesting that such big guns are getting called out for a case that's being widely characterized as frivolous and unjustified.

More details as they emerge.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An invitation to Matthew Major

Mr. Major,

I invite you to take a small block of your time and meet with myself and a few friends in person. You'll find that those of us who carry firearms are not knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. I challenge you to think outside the box. I'm NOT interested in debating you on the Second Amendment, but I think you'd be surprised to experience for yourself that normal, rational people (who aren't the police) carry firearms, and that the general public doesn't give us a second glance.

Greg Rotz
aka 'Armed-Citizen'

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Matthew Major doesn't get it.....again.

My local editorial writer misses the mark again. I understand he writes "on behalf of Public Opinion's editorial board", but I must assume that he's not continually writing pieces 180° of his own opinions.

On one hand, he doesn't understand why I "need" to carry my firearm when I go vote - because it might upset someone, but on the other, he's annoyed that voters can't wear a political t-shirt to the same poll. After all, that's their right.

This time, he's placing full responsibility for one person's actions (Sheriff Michael DeLeo) at the feet of someone who's actually decided to push back against DeLeo's overstepping of his authority (Meleanie Hain). His editorial is a great example of how a typical news story - lacking all of the facts, and often with some simply reported incorrectly, can snowball into a piece that is so far off of the mark that it's laughable when you know the whole story.

Another dispatch from the "Wait, Did I Read That Right?" file: A Lebanon County woman is suing the county sheriff who revoked her concealed weapons permit after she caused a ruckus by openly carrying her sidearm to a children's soccer game.

Yes, Meleanie Hain has made the news again by combining her publicity-conscious soccer game stunt on Sept. 11 with naked grab at a cool $1 million in public money in a lawsuit filed Monday.

You see, Hain says the publicity generated by the revocation of her permit -- subsequently and successfully challenged in court -- has caused emotional distress and turned her baby-sitting business from a full-time operation to a one-day-a-week job.

Let's be clear: No one is claiming Hain broke the letter of the law on Sept. 11, a fact reinforced by the Oct. 14 reinstatement of her permit.

In a nutshell, Hain openly wore a firearm to a soccer game for small children. Other parents in attendance -- rightly or wrongly, for whatever reason -- complained to the county sheriff

Mrs. Hain did not "cause a ruckus". She did carry her firearm to the soccer field on September 11th, just as she had done on at least a dozen previous occasions, not to mention the hundreds of other times and places she has done so. The "ruckus" was caused by Charlie Jones and Nigel Foundling, a public defender and former district justice, respectively.

Right To Know documents clearly show their attempt to use their position to force Hain to comply with their demands. The flurry of correspondence amongst various Lebanon county officials shows they were scrambling for any leverage they could come up with to 'persuade' her to submit to their wishes, but they were unable to come up with anything that had even a remotely legal foundation. Then, all of a sudden, a 'concerned parent' writes a letter to the Sheriff. A letter than he has since admitted (directly to Mrs. Hain) that he wished he'd never written.
The sheriff responded to those complaints. A judge correctly slapped down the sheriff's response and returned the permit, but not before characterizing the entire mess as a lapse in judgment on Hain's part.

And at that point, this story should have ended.

Instead, Hain compounds the issue by suing a public servant. "She has been stigmatized unfairly," as her lawyer put it to The Patriot-News last week.

Stigmatized? Yes, indeed. Unfairly? We're not so sure.

Check the transcript and the law Matt. The Sheriff is required to conduct an investigation. By his own court testimony, this consisted solely of reading the single complaint letter that he received (the one the author wished he never sent), and visiting the park to look around. Those in authority do not have unfettered power to take action beyond the scope of the law. When a citizen does this, they are punished. The return of Mrs. Hain's license was simply the undoing of the Sheriff's improper action. The impending suit, and it's outcome are his punishment.
And, to our way of thinking, that's not really the issue. Because if Hain wins this case, Lebanon County will be on the hook for a million-dollar payoff.

We fail to see why taxpayers should be punished for Hain's failure to anticipate that touching off a gun-related controversy might cause her baby-sitting clients to rethink their day care arrangements.

Frankly, we can't blame people who don't want to the leave their kids with a grown woman who hasn't yet learned that we all must accept the consequences of our actions.

The DeLeo revocation fiasco is not the first time Lebanon county row offices have been plagued with corruption and/or scandal. As a matter of fact, it's not even the first time a dark shadow has fallen across the Sheriff's office. If the county electorate is willing to be governed in this fashion, then they should have no complaint about the associated cost when a dose of reality comes their way. If they don't agree with the heavy-handed tactics employed by their leaders, they should take action at the ballot box to lessen the likelihood of similar events occurring in the future.

As far as the loss of clients, this was a direct result of the Sheriff's action, and the ensuing climate in the Sheriff's office. The first client lost was a Deputy. He was very clear that he had no issue with Mrs. Hains behavior - either during the care of his child, or at the soccer field. The issue for him was criticism and pressure at work, applied by the Sheriff and other staff there. His testimony in the civil case should prove very interesting. The second client lost was a direct result of the first, as the second child no longer had a playmate of similar age. Neither client expressed any concern with the level of care provided by Mrs. Hain, who by the way, doesn't carry her firearm while providing child care services in her home.

Basing editorials solely on other news accounts can easily allow you the opportunity to make yourself look the fool when the accurate and complete facts are known. I'd think Mr. Major would approach this job more carefully, as looking the fool is already something he's quite accomplished at.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yes....I'm still alive

I've been spending a lot of time lately working with my friend Rich Banks on re-vamping and expanding One of the recent changes is the addition of a forum on the Pa Open Carry site. We also hope to unveil a new look for the site soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Para Gun Blog .45 arrives...

At my FFL. Now I need to find an excuse to make the 2.5 hour trip to pick it up. Oh well, knowing it's one step closer to taking up regular residence on my hip is a small consolation. I'll post more pics when I finally get it, but that could be a bit yet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Organizations support soccer mom

While Meleanie Hain's revocation is only the third revocation we've been involved with, it has overwhelmingly been the most successful in terms of rapid fundraising. Tomorrow will be one week since she receive notice of her revocation, and we've all ready raised over $1300. Also notable is the facts that for the first time we've received donations from an out-of-state organization. We've also received a pledge of donation from JSHolsters, and they are planning to hold a Utah CCW class as an additional fundraiser, with the usual class fee going to Meleanie's legal fund.

Meleanie has already obtained counsel, filed the formal appeal, and had a hearing date set (October 14). Not only do I expect to see a successful outcome to this situation, but it appears it will be in record time as well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Show your LTCF to OC in Gander Mountain?

Tonight I stopped by Gander Mountain to return a rifle case that was a piece of crap. There wasn't enough foam to hold the gun in place, and as soon as you picked it up, everything fell to the bottom.

My letter to the store manager (going out tomorrow) pretty much details what occurred:

My address
Chambersburg, PA 17202
September 25, 2008

Shannon Platt
Gander Mountain
3285 Black Gap Road
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Dear Mr. Platt,

On the evening of September 24, 2008, I visited your store to return a rifle case that was unsatisfactory. Upon entering, I took my place at the Customer Service counter, behind a couple who was in the process of making a purchase. The clerk on duty (Garrett) told me that I needed to have the case checked. I replied that it was empty, and that I was going to be returning it. He asked me to go ahead and pop it open to show him, and I did so.

He then asked if I had a carry license for the holstered pistol on my hip. I replied to him that one does not need a license to 'open carry' a firearm. He asked again what I had said, and I repeated that “You do not need a license to open carry.” He made no further inquiry, and promptly processed my return as he was done with the previous customer.

I understand and have no issue with the policy of checking firearm being brought in for service, etc. I am also aware of the signs posted regarding those who have a “CCW” (though in Pa., it is called a License To Carry Firearms). I have previously visited your store while open carrying my firearm and have never had an issue.

I want to be clear. At no time was Garrett rude or unprofessional in any way. I also realize that he may be following store policy in regards to his actions, thus my letter to you.

I am requesting that you clarify your store's policy in regards to carrying firearms, either openly or concealed, and any requirement for someone to show their LTCF to store personnel. Even if I had been concealing my weapon (I do have a LTCF), I will not show my LTCF to store personnel if required as a condition of entry. Even the police must have legal cause to make such a demand, and cannot do so arbitrarily or “just to check”.

I also understand that Gander Mountain is private property, and as such, you have the right to allow or disallow certain behaviors there, even if they are legal. If you do not welcome my open carried firearm, or require that I show my LTCF as a condition of entry, please let me know. I will be happy to respect your wishes and take my firearm (and my business) elsewhere.


Another LTCF revocation for OC alone

Looks like the Lebanon County Sheriff is about to learn the same lesson that the Franklin County Sheriff learned earlier this year.


Pistol-packing Pa. soccer mom loses gun permit

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) — Officials in Pennsylvania have revoked a woman's concealed-weapons permit because other parents complained that she was carrying her loaded handgun at her daughter's soccer games. Meleanie Hain said she's fighting the revocation by the Lebanon County sheriff.

Hain lost the permit and got a warning from local soccer officials after a game on Sept. 11.

Sheriff Michael DeLeo says openly carrying a weapon to a youth soccer match shows a lack of judgment.

Hain tells the Lebanon Daily News she's always openly carried a firearm without any problems in the past.

And her lawyer — Robert Magee — says that while Pennsylvania requires a permit for a concealed firearm, it doesn't require a license to carry one openly except in Philadelphia.

A more detailed story can be found on the Lebanon Daily News site, and there will be a follow-up article on the growth of OC in Pa. in the next couple of days.

In an effort to help the Sheriff cope with all of the attention, I've forwarded him a packet and cd containing all the media coverage from my own revocation - so he knows what to expect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hazle Township - the next step

At the meeting I attended several weeks ago, the township supervisors made a big fuss pointing out that I had not actually been denied the use of their park.

Tomorrow, my pavilion rental application and check are going out in the mail. Complete with rule sheet (and rule prohibiting firearms crossed out) and cover letter advising them I fully expect attendees to be carrying in accordance with state law, and that we do not agree to follow Rule #6 (no firearms) and will not waive our legal right as a condition of use.

Their denial should make a nice "Exhibit A" for our legal challenge.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hazle Township opts for "the hard way"

Last night I made the two-hour drive to address the Township Supervisors in person. Despite a wealth of statute and case law supporting our position, the supervisors seemed completely disinterested in what we had to say. One challenged my statement that I was "unable" to rent the facility, and asked if I had tried. I told him I did not because the rental agreement required me to agree to the rules, and I would not agree to come without my firearm. He said "the rules are the rules" and that didn't prevent me from renting the pavilion. I then asked if I should simply agree to the rules, then go ahead and bring my firearm anyway. This was not acceptable. He basically said it was my choice, and not their problem if I refused to abide by their rules and would not leave my firearm behind.

The Solicitor was not there, but his son was 'pinch hitting'. He took personal offense from my "sloppy interpretation" comment. Apparently he was the one who came up with it, and fed it to his father for presentation at the last meeting. He then proceeded to give me a mini-quiz on some of the case law. I think he was expecting me to not be familiar with them - he was wrong.

On tonight's news report they claim to be "still investigating" and say they don't want to rush into anything. However, last night they made it very clear that there would be no agreement on this issue. In fact, in the last four weeks of their supposed "continuing to look into it", they have been either unable or unwilling to even disclose the exact origins of the rule, and whether or not it is actually backed by an ordinance.

After the meeting, I asked the solicitor what would happen if I proceeded directly to the park. He just shrugged his shoulders. I then asked how someone who was not involved in this debate and just happened by the park would be aware of this rule, since it was not posted anywhere at the park. Again, he just shrugged his shoulders.

I believe it is very clear that they will continue to drag this out in an attempt to get us to go away. They have proven that "continuing to look into it" = NOTHING. Rich and I intend to immediately begin collecting funds so that we can challenge the township in court. We strongly believe that our position is correct, and believe that they are pushing to this extent with the belief that we will not follow through.

Here's the statement I gave to the board:


My name is Greg Rotz. I am the party who attempted to rent a pavilion for our organizational gathering, but found I would be unable to do so because of the Township's illegal prohibition on firearms in the park. I have been following the ongoing dialog here, and felt it was time to be here in person to address the situation.

Upon review of the information presented last month, we found that not only was it inaccurate and misapplied, but some of it actually supports our claims and refutes the stated basis for your position.

You claimed that Title 55 Pa. Code, Chapter 3270 (which applies to daycare facilities), and specifically §3270.79 (Firearms) carries over to the park, because such facilities utilize the park's amenities. §3270 is 'regulatory' in nature, and is directed at those who own or operate such a facility. It sets the conditions that must be met to receive and maintain a state license to operate such a facility. The penalty for non-compliance is the loss of licensing. Clearly, this could not apply to someone who wouldn't be licensed in the first place – such as a park user who was lawfully carrying a firearm.

Further, there is no suggestion in §3270, or anywhere else in statute that this provision is a "roaming" one, following the involved parties in their travels. As a matter of fact, §3270.75 (First Aid kit) specifically mentions “excursions from the facility,” which according to your argument, isn't really possible.

If it is possible, if the park is indeed also a “daycare facility,” and if §3270.79 (Firearms) applies, then all other provisions of §3270 would also apply. However, it's interesting to note that there are a dozen additional provisions of §3270 with which the park is not in compliance. For brevity, I will omit them here, but I would be happy to detail them at the end of my comments if you wish.

If you take the time to review the entirety of §3270, it becomes very clear that there is no legal standing to consider a public park as an extension of a “daycare facility,” and if the township wished to obtain their own certification as such, they have quite a few issues to correct in order to meet the strict standards set by the state.

You also stated that the provisions under §912 (Possession of Weapon on School Property) share this same "roaming" characteristic. You completely ignored the provisions contained in §912(c) for “a lawful supervised school activity or course or...other lawful purpose,” and §912(b) has very clear language on where this section applies, and I quote,

"in the buildings of, on the grounds of, or in any conveyance providing transportation to or from any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school."

This is a very important distinction. It makes no mention of any place away from an actual school where students may be present, and it says nothing about "school district property." Administration buildings are not included, athletic facilities not attached to a school are not included, and I would submit that even if the park were deeded to the school district, §912 would STILL not apply, as it would not be the "grounds of any elementary or secondary school."

If such a roaming provision were to exist, any such ambiguity would only be magnified by entrusting the job of determining these standards to local municipalities. The likelihood for wild inconsistencies to exist from municipality to municipality would create exactly the scenario that §6120 is meant to protect us from. How many students need be present to trigger the prohibition? 50? 10? 1? Does the prohibition start and stop coinciding with the arrival and departure of the students, or is it in place all the time, just in case some students drop by? And if that provision follows the students around, are my rights to have a firearm in my home nullified by the fact that I have a school-aged child? Fortunately, I need not worry about such silly circumstances. I follow the state law, which is the final AND ONLY authority in this matter.

Beyond this, there is case law which contradicts this notion of extended prohibition, outside of the strict definition contained in §912. Commonwealth v. Ingram, PA Superior Court (2002), addressed the very issue you are asserting. They ruled that ownership was key to the issue. From their decision:

“Because the Commonwealth failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant was on school property when he was found to be in possession of the weapon, we find there was insufficient evidence to convict him of this crime. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's decision regarding this conviction and vacate the corresponding judgment of sentence.”

In Commonwealth v. Heidler, the court overturned a conviction under §912, even though a gun was present in a vehicle parked in the parking lot of a public high school. The man charged had left his firearm with his girlfriend, who remained in his vehicle while he entered the school. While there, he was served with a Protection From Abuse order. During this process, the police talked to both parties, and became aware of the presence of the firearm. Both parties possessed a valid Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms. They charged Mr. Heidler, but his eventual conviction was overturned by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, ruling that he did not have constructive possession of the gun. His girlfriend, who clearly did have constructive possession, and was undeniably present on “the grounds of a secondary publicly-funded educational institution” was not charged with any crime.

These cases seem to clearly indicate that any loose interpretation or alleged mobility of some "zone of safety" is grossly inaccurate. It is also very important to note that there has not been a single upheld conviction under §912 without the presence of other criminal acts - NOT A SINGLE ONE, EVER in Pennsylvania.

Now that your supposed extensions of other applicable regulations have been refuted, we are left with the sole question of preemption, as defined in §6120, and the township's authority to independently institute a firearms prohibition in its parks.

We believe that suggesting that Minich v Jefferson County permits such exceptions to preemption is sloppy interpretation. The county ordinance in question was upheld because it was parallel to state law. Any local measures weaker than or equal to Pennsylvania statute, are certainly permitted. If you wished to pass ordinance after ordinance to duplicate the provisions of Title 18 in totality, there would be no issue. The conflict arises when you attempt to “enact an ordinance which regulates firearm possession if the ordinance would make the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm unlawful.”

That is exactly what your park rule does. Absent your rule, carry in a public park, under any circumstance, and regardless of whatever other persons are present (be it students, daycare users or otherwise) is indisputably lawful under state law. Therefore, your rule which makes this otherwise lawful act unlawful, is in clear violation of §6120, and must be amended to be in compliance with state law.

The state law makes no allowance for any consideration for increased or decreased park usage that may occur as a result of compliance.

The state law does not make an exception permissible in order to avoid financial loss from any fluctuation in the aforementioned park usage.

The state law does not permit an exception if enacted by Township Supervisors who are themselves gun owners or if they are acting "in the interest of the safety of youth".

If other park users no longer feel comfortable using the park, that is regrettable, but irrelevant. Their solution is to contact their legislators and work to have existing law changed, not to have the Supervisors act outside of their legal authority and attempt to supercede state law. The only result of such action will be continued negative attention and increasing legal expense for the township.

The state law is simple. The state law is clear. Your rule (whether backed by an ordinace or not) is in violation, and it MUST be modified. This is not a “constitutional issue.” §6120 is part of Title 18, which is a criminal statute. Violating it is a criminal offense. Even if you refuse to amend it, you are powerless to enforce it, and doing so would constitute yet another violation of the law. Schneck v. City of Philadelphia reminds us that it is a well-established principle of law that where a state statute preempts local governments from imposing regulations on a subject, any ordinance contrary to state law is unenforceable, and Ortiz v. Commonwealth holds that the General Assembly may negate ordinances enacted by home rule municipalities when the conflicting state statute concerns substantive matters of statewide concern. We believe that this clearly qualifies as “substantive and of statewide concern.” Reiteration of these facts is included in the publication 'Home Rule in Pennsylvania', published by the Governor's Center for Local Government Services.

Should we leave this meeting tonight, and proceed directly to the park for a walk, you would have no legal authority to intervene in ANY way because we are carrying firearms. We are completely and unshakably confident in our legal position. Are you?

As has been stated on previous occasions, this is not simply about our group wishing to use your park. This is about the township being in compliance with long established state law, and not exceeding their authority – regardless of their motives for doing so. This is not the first such rule that our organization has addressed. Some have been quickly corrected, others with some reluctance. But in the end, all so far have conceded the applicability of §6120 and have made the necessary changes.

Make no mistake. There is only ONE outcome that we will accept. Any attempted regulation of firearms possession by the township, including the carrying of same, is prohibited by state law. We have made our position clear. We have consulted with attorneys who specialize in firearms law, and parties who actually help draft firearms legislation. We are fully prepared to pursue this matter in a more authoritative venue if necessary, and believe the information we have presented tonight establishes a foundation for a successful outcome.

Thank you.
In addition, we presented the following documentation to support our claims:

  • §912 - Possession of Weapon on School Property
  • §3270 - Daycare facilities
  • §6120 - Limitation on the Regulation of Firearms and Ammunition
  • § 5301 - Official oppression
Case Law:
  • Com. v. Heidler (issue: school carry)
  • Com. v. Ingram (issue: school carry)
  • Minich v. Jefferson County (issue: preemption)
  • Ortiz v. Com. (issue: preemption)
  • Schneck v. Philadelphia (issue: preemption)
Additional documentation:
  • Home Rule in Pennsylvania (reinforces preemption)
  • Pennsylvania Legal Ethics (speaks to "counseling illegal conduct")

Trooper Shawn Schexnaildre

Remember that name. This man is unknowingly placing himself at the center of a terrible shitstorm. He has repeatedly made false statements to the press, in an attempt to color public opinion against John Noble. Don't know who John Noble is?

Man arrested for having gun at rally

By Bill Vidonic, Times Staff

BEAVER — An Industry man is facing a disorderly conduct charge for attending the Barack Obama rally in Irvine Park with a loaded gun that was holstered on his hip, according to state police and the Beaver County sheriff’s department.

John Noble, 50, was questioned by police for several hours Friday night after the incident, in which witnesses said he also was passing out fliers with writing about gun rights.

John Atkinson of Vanport Township said he saw Noble passing out the fliers and noticed the small-caliber handgun strapped to the man’s waist. He said he quickly notified nearby deputy sheriffs, and deputies Joseph O’Sche and Rich Yonlisky approached the man as he walked along Market Street.

Atkinson said that when the deputies asked why he had a gun, Noble replied, “Because I’m an American,” and one of the deputies responded, “Well, you’re under arrest.”

Noble was hustled to a nearby vehicle, and state police took him to the Brighton Township barracks to question him.

Beaver County Sheriff George David said that Noble insisted he had a right to have the gun because he has a permit to carry it. It wasn’t clear late Friday whether Noble had a valid permit.

David said Noble “wanted to show his rights.” He said Noble never removed the gun from the holster or threatened anyone.

Noble’s arrest took place around 7 p.m., nearly 90 minutes before Sen. Obama and the rest of his campaign team arrived in Beaver.

Bill Vidonic can be reached online at
I'm proud to say I'm working with Mr. Noble and his legal team to stomp down these ridiculous charges and refute the malicious lies being spread by Trooper Schexnaildre.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission complete (almost)

We finally wrapped up our shooting this morning, then had time to grab a quick shower and gather up our gear to catch the Blackhawk bus back to Norfolk. Right now, I'm sitting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, passing the time until 7:00 when we have a dinner reservation up the road. After that, I'll be staying over with someone local and heading for home first thing in the morning.

This morning, we did a few drills in a shoot house, then Todd set up a stage for us to run the house with our lasers. The winner received their choice of any Crimson Trace laser grips. I came in second, mostly due to a fumbled re-load.

After we finished, we headed off to chow, but again we had a little more time than expected, so Todd said he would reset the house and we could run a new scenario. This time they offered three prizes - Crimson Trace laser grips for 1st, a case of ammo for 2nd, and half a case for 3rd (actually Todd said only 499 rounds - he took one).

I elected to run first, and while I still botched two re-loads, my time held up to be the best of the second run. There was also a 'bad guy' who was mostly obscured by a door when passing through, and some shooters missed it, which cost them a time penalty.

Joe Huffman came in second, and since I don't really have a use for the laser (they're included on the gun I bought) I asked if he'd be interested in a trade. Since he's a re-loader, the trade was amicable for both of us and we walked away happy with our winnings. Now I just have to wait for the gun to get here so I can start burning up some of that ammo!

I hope to get some more thorough reviews up for the products I used after I get back home and things settle down just a bit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Practicing the fundamentals - over, and over, and over

Shooting accurately is pretty easy. Use a proper grip, focus on your front sight, and squeeze (don't jerk!) the trigger. Getting these things to all come together for every shot is the challenge.

Todd Jarrett has been an excellent teacher. He's very personable and employs a hands on approach. He started the morning by illustrating a proper grip, and marking our hands with a Sharpie so we could quickly see if we were maintaining it or not. Such a simple act made an amazing difference. I never gave much thought to accurately shooting a non-competition pistol, with open sights, from 25 yards and having a meaningful grouping. Today I learned that if you manage to do things they way they should be done, you can do just that. Not perfect, but better than I expected from myself.

Then, it was time to move on to bigger and more challenging things. First, shooting on the move. Then, shooting moving targets. Got that down? Now let's combine the two...and then throw in some barricades and include enough shots that several re-loads are necessary to complete the stage. While I certainly didn't come away with any perfect scores on these set-ups, they were a blast to run.

After thoroughly crudding up our guns for the last two days, we finally got around to cleaning them at the end of the day today. I had never taken down a 1911 style pistol before. It's slightly more complicated that my Sigma, but I'm certain that after seeing it done once, I could now repeat it myself. Of course, when we were all done cleaning them, we still had just a few minutes until we were due for chow. So we promptly began to make them dirty again.

While I agree that the problem mentioned by Joe Huffman shouldn't be solved by telling users "Don't do that", my own habits have (so far) not made this an issue for me. I also agree with Sebastian's assessment of the seeming redundancy of a thumb safety on a DA gun, but hopefully proper technique will help me avoid this issue as well.

Is this the "perfect gun"? No. Do I like it, and believe that it will be both fun and reliable for the way I intend to use it? Absolutely. And since my lovely wife has given me her blessing, I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for the day this pistol will be back in my hands, in my own home, where I expect it will remain for quite some time.

Other smaller highlights included the pimped out rides provided to us courtesy of Blackwater, and the thrill of running off rounds by the dozen, only to have more cases of ammo show up on the table.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A full first day, despite limited range time

Today was a full day, even though we only were on the range (shooting) for about an hour and a half. We started off the morning with a stop at Blackhawk USA before leaving Norfolk, where we took in presentations about their various product lines, and a very generous box full of swag.

Among the items were two Serpa holsters (to fit the gun we're shooting this weekend - one with the autolock, and one without), two mag holders, tactical belt, tactical gloves, two shirts, a canteen, a Todd Jarrett shooting tips DVD and a few other misc. items.

After arriving in NC and touring the Blackwater grounds in the bus, we had lunch, dropped our stuff in our rooms and headed off to a safety briefing and introduction to the pistol we were using before finally getting in a bit of shooting before dinner.

After a couple hundred rounds, I'm liking this gun. It probably won't satisfy die-hard SA fanatics, but as someone who currently carries a Sigma DAO, I'd definitely choose this gun over my current daily carry piece. The addition of special lettering commemorating the weekend, fiber-optic front sight, adjustable rear sight, Crimson Trace laser grips and a total of six magazines are going to make this a tough package to pass up. There have been a couple of minor hiccups with these guns on the line, but so far, the one I'm using has performed flawlessly. I hope that continues!

I think I'm on the way to convincing the wife to let me back into the house if I make such a purchase, since I won't need to spend additional $ for accessories and add-ons. We'll see what kind of mood she's in tomorrow when I call. ;)

Tomorrow should be a much more demanding day, with many more hours spent putting bullets down-range (no lead though, we're shooting all frangibles). Here are a couple of pics from today.

Our transportation

Blackhawk USA Headquarters

An armory at Blackwater

Some swag

What I'm shooting

Words to live by

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One step closer

I've arrived at the EconoLodge in Portsmouth, which is just across town from where I'm suppposed to meet everyone tomorrow. Despite only having an advertised 'hotspot' in the lobby, I'm able to get a weak signal in my room, so I don't have to run down there to get connected.

Plans for the evening: rehydrate and chill out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blackwater Preparation

Tonight I'm packing and making sure I'm all set for the weekend. I'll be leaving directly from work tomorrow afternoon and heading to Norfolk, VA where I'm supposed to meet up with everyone else at 9:00 am on Friday.

My hotel (tomo) has wi-fi, but only in the lobby, so I'm not sure if I'll get a quick post in before Friday night or not.

Contrary to earlier reports, we're now being told that wi-fi will be available for us at the lodge. There also telling us that other than evenings after dinner, we'll be quite busy. Keep an eye here for updates throughout the weekend, and be sure to visit the Second Amendment Blog Bash page, where a feed of many participants' blogs will be available together.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hazle Township, round two.

Last night, some fellow members from PAFOA again attended the township supervisors meeting to follow up on last month's meeting.

This month, the solicitor cited Minich v. Jefferson county to support a claim that there could be 'exceptions' to §6120, the state's preemption statute. Their solicitor also claimed that since local schools and daycares use the park on a regular basis, §912 covers the park, and any other place that school children may go. If they're in a museum, §912 extends. Carrying in a McDonald's when field trip bus stops in? You're now breaking the law.

Now clearly, we are not done with these clowns. While we didn't have access to Minich while at the meeting, a review clearly shows that this case supports our arguments, not theirs. We are now beginning to build an overwhelming rebuttal, focusing on many different modes of attack.

Only the print media was there this past meeting, but local TV got wind of it, and are now pursuing further coverage as well. We welcome ANY support and assistance from gun owners in the Hazle Twp area as well as any other organization or entity that may have an interest in helping shed the light of truth on these poor misguided souls.

Cabela's (Hamburg, PA) carry policy clarification

This afternoon, I had a very nice phone conversation with Bruce Biedenharn, store manager at the Hamburg, PA Cabela's.

I reviewed the two recent incidents that I was aware of (one from PAFOA, one from OCDO), and inquired if their carry policy had changed at all since I spoke to him last September. He stated that it has not. At my request, he will be mailing me a letter on Company letterhead stating their policy, and reviewing that policy at all daily employee meetings for the next week, which should cover the large majority, if not all, of their employees.

He apologized for the incidents, and I told him I understood that turnover and a large staff seemed to be the main culprit and that based on my previous conversation with him last year, and the impression he gave me then, his response is exactly what I expected.

For the record:
If a firearm is brought into the store for service, etc., it needs to be unloaded and 'checked' upon entry. However, lawful carry of a firearm for personal defense, open or concealed, is absolutely permitted in the store.

As soon as I receive the letter, I'll scan and post it here as well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

For all Pennsylvanians who care about their privacy rights:

There is a class-action lawsuit underway against PennDot for stealing your identity. We are currently in the beginning stages, trying to get as many plaintiffs on our list as possible before filing this lawsuit.

In the words of Rep. Sam Rohrer, from his press conference:

"Exactly two years ago, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania entered into a $45 million contract with Viisage Technology, self-described as 'the industry leader in instant issue digital driver's licenses.' Viisage, later renamed L-1 Identity Solutions, became responsible for issuing Pennsylvania driver's licenses.

Under the authority of Governor Rendell, Viisage and PennDOT launched a new program in June 2006 known as FaceEXPLORER to be used in conjunction with the issuing of driver's licenses. This program uses an upgraded, high-definition photograph taken at a driver's license center to create a facial recognition template, or 'faceprint,' similar in purpose and uniqueness to a fingerprint. This faceprint is a form of biometrics based on the measurements of a person's unique, personal facial geometry. The faceprint goes beyond such easily recognizable physical features as haircut, glasses or facial hair and into an analysis of one's unique facial structure. Once this personally unique faceprint has been created, it is stored in a database to be used to compare against the faceprint of others. By these means, PennDOT and Viisage hoped to reduce identity fraud and theft. In reality, FaceEXPLORER has been a 'back-door' means to implement the REAL ID Act of 2005 without the consent or knowledge of either the legislature or the people."

Rep. Rohrer goes on to say that

" . . Neither PennDOT nor Viisage has inherent authority nor have they been granted any exception to take biometric information from the citizens of the Commonwealth. . .The actions allowed by Governor Rendell further violates statutory law. . .Significantly, this issue constitutes a major Constitutional violation. . . "

Your biometric faceprint can be picked up by surveillance cameras to track your every move. This has to be stopped. Our biometric data must be destroyed/deleted!

We need to join together. This is a crucial moment that we cannot let slip away.

If you want to be part of this lawsuit, contact Renee' Baumgartner by email at, or call her cell (sparingly) at 717-286-8042.

She is a state co-coordinator of Pennsylvania for Restore the Republic and a member of the Campaign for Liberty in Lancaster County.

Email your: Name, Physical Address, phone number & email address

(This information will be kept strictly with her and the attorney that we retain for the lawsuit. Updates will be available as we move forward.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

YOU can help someone in need. Will you?

From Pat Gray:

Ramos/Compean fundraiser

The families of these border agents/political prisoners are struggling. Homes are in jeopardy, lives torn apart. So, we’re raising money for Monica Ramos and Patty Compean.

We’re asking that instead of one check, split your donation between the two: Make them out separately to Monica Ramos…AND…Patty Compean…and mail to:

Edd Henndee
Taste of Texas
10505 Katy Freeway
Houston, Texas 77024

Thank you SO much for whatever you can do for these families of patriots, who’ve been through so much. Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated by the families. The Compean’s of course, have already lost their home…now the Ramos’s face the same thing.
It was amazing to hear former border agent, Gary Brugman’s tale of the 5th Circuit Court today (check it out on the podcast if you missed it…at 7:35 or so). I’ve known Gary for over a year now, and wasn’t aware of his situation until yesterday. He went through the same thing with those judges.

Judge who overturned my LTCF revocation seems bitter about his decision

On Wednesday, my local newspaper put their local spin on the current statewide topic of Constables, and whether or not they receive adequate training and operate within the scope of their authority. Of course, such an article just couldn't be written without a re-hash of what happened last November.

He said he has heard of very few problems over the years with the work local constables do. Perhaps the highest-profile case was when a man showed up to vote last year with a holstered gun, and a constable asked him to leave the gun in his vehicle.

The man refused and was allowed to keep the gun in its holster while he voted, but Walker said a poll worker later complained to Franklin County Sheriff Robert Wollyung, who revoked the man's permit to carry the gun.

The man appealed Wollyung's decision, and Walker sided with him.

"He didn't violate a law and I wasn't going to let (his supporters) make a martyr of him," Walker said this week.

He said he asked legislators to write a law governing firearms at polling places but basically "got a (expletive) answer."

"Most lawmakers don't want to rile up the NRA," he said.
On the day of my hearing, he didn't seem the least bit reluctant to rule that way that he did, though he did take the opportunity to express his personal displeasure. It seems the uncompromising stance taken by my state representatives has upset him. I guess he (and the County Commissioners) expected their titles to carry enough weight to push their agenda through, state Constitution be damned. I'm sure their quite frustrated that the 'little guy' not only prevailed in court, but maintains the ability to exercise his liberty as he sees fit.

I wonder if Judge Walker would have ruled differently if he knew then what he knows now? Seeing as he's retiring before the end of the year, I suppose he won't be the one to hear my appeal if I'm revoked for open carry while voting again this year. Of course, given the conversations I've had with the new Sheriff, I don't expect that will be an issue.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I am a domestic terrorist.

I've actually just learned this. Good thing my tax dollars are being used wisely, or else I never would have known. I won't do them the courtesy of linking, but this assessment of my character has been provided by my own state government via the Terrorism Awareness and Protection program, which is a state funded effort. Thanks Harrisburg!!

Here are some of the reasons I qualify:
  • I am part of a 'single issue group'
  • I believe that gun control is the first step to enslave us, starting with the removal of our ability to either defend ourselves or forcefully change our government
  • I believe that U.S. sovereignty is being surrendered to the U.N., World Court, and World Bank
  • I believe that our current government has, and continues to subvert the Constitution
  • I admire the Gadsden Flag
A tip of the hat to Target Rich Environment, who has a more details about this ridiculousness on his blog.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Give Ledansky the boot

Snowflakes in Hell covers the important points quite well.

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.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A new venture

I've recently begun a new venture. A couple of members from PAFOA have created 'Poofa radio' - an online station that streams music and plans to add firearm-related content to the rotation. To that end, we've started to produce (and I use that term VERY loosely) weekly Activism Updates detailing ongoing events around PA. Stop by Poofa and give them a listen. The weekly updates are also available right here on my blog, through an embedded player or you can subscribe to the show via several different options.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dickson City update

No surprises here. The defendants have filed for an extension. Standard legal stuff, and it's not being opposed by plaintiff's counsel. Check back after August 4. Defendants are being represented by Louis J. Isaacsohn.

New documents:
Motion to extend
Order for extension

Older documents:
Complaint (4 Plaintiffs)
Complaint (5th Plaintiff - filed seperately)

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm on my way to Blackwater!

Thank you to everyone who voted for my blog in the ParaUSA blogger contest. I've received an e-mail notifying me that I am one of the winners. I'm sure there will be stories and photos to come while I'm there. The training weekend will take place on Aug 22-24.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stadnitski's Fantasy

Apparently the Dickson City Police Chief has a fantasy of living in a gun-free community, even going to the extent of using department resources to encourage and document "No firearms" policies around down. On July 4th, Rich Banks (founder of and I decided to call his bluff and spent the better part of the day in Dickson City, openly carrying our firearms all the while. Here's how things shook out:
  • We visited 101 businesses that were not on the list as provided by Chief Stadnitski. We found 0 signs prohibiting firearms.
  • We visited 19 businesses that were on the list as provided by Chief Stadnitski. We found 0 signs prohibiting firearms.
  • During the course of the day, we entered 7 Dickson City businesses (included in the above mentioned stats). Five of them were not on the list, two were, including the Viewmont Diner, where we had a delicious lunch and friendly, excellent service. We did not receive any negative comments at all, and were not asked to cover our firearms or to leave any establishment that we entered.
  • As previously reported, Denny's does have a sign posted. As of this report, the sign is still in place.
I intend to note all of this info in the next week when I make my next inquire with Chief Stadnitski as to the status of his little project.

List of Dickson City businesses we visited:
  • Sam's Club - A female customer asked Rich if he had a 'gun permit'. He replied that he did, but in PA one was not required for OC. She said that she carried a gun when she was at home (Georgia) and wondered if she could open carry here and if her GA permit was recognized. We answered both in the affirmative and gave her a pamphlet. She thanked us and we parted ways.
  • Best Buy - Stopped by to look for a serial to USB converter. Found one, but was too high-priced.
  • Viewmont Diner - Had some excellent gyros for lunch.
  • Sheetz - Stopped for gas and snacks
  • Petco - Stopped to get doggie drugs so Rich's dogs don't freak out over the fireworks. Asked for assistance to find them and had a few-minute conversation with a clerk about the various options.
  • Circuit City - Continued my search for a serial to USB converter. Didn't find any on the shelf, so I asked an employee. They didn't have any, which explained why we couldn't find them. Two other employees told us "Have a nice day" on the way out.
  • Wal-Mart - Picked up some little flags.

After we left Dickson city, we went to Wilkes-Barre, where we met up with mystery_man and walked about two miles around the downtown area, including passing by the police department twice. After the walk, as we stood on the corner chatting, an officer drove by. Rich said he almost broke his neck twisting it to see my pistol, but he did not stop, and there was no additional response (we were a block from the station). Also, on the way back home we made a quick stop and the Wilkes-Barre township K-mart.

All-in-all, just another totally uneventful OC day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Today's "Activism Watchlist"

Here are a couple of links to some 'incidents' I'm currently working on. These blatant violations need to be taken to task - and with the growing assistance of more and more PAFOA members, they will be.

NJ man has his firearm confiscated while taking a walk in Wilkes-Barre - A bit of good news on this story today. Rich Banks (a good friend of mine and founder of accompanied this gentleman to the Wilkes-Barre PD where the owner was able to retrieve his firearm. He did not provide proof of ownership to do so, which was the original demand of the department, despite the fact that there is no legal burden to do so. Legal action by the citizen is still pending in this matter.

Carrier illegally detained and falsely charged in Pittsburgh - This incident occurred at 3 am this morning. It is the third time this individual has been hassled by local LEOs, and despite previous follow-ups and attempts to make the law clear to those involved, they refuse to accept it. At the center of the issue is an illegal City of Pittsburg ordinance:
No person shall carry in any vehicle or concealed or unconcealed on or about his person except when on his or her land or in his or her own abode or fixed place of business any firearm; provided that this section shall not apply to:
(a) Those persons specifically exempted under 18 P.S. Sec. 6106(b)(1-10); or
(b) Any person issued a valid license to the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act when carrying the type of weapon for which such license was issued.
(Ord. 11-1980, eff. 7-25-80; Am. Ord. 30-1993, eff. 12-9-93)
Pa.'s Preemption Statute clearly makes this ordinance null and unenforceable:
§6120. Limitation on the Regulation of Firearms and Ammunition.

(a) General rule. No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammuni­tion components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this commonwealth.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A misguided attempt at defending his actions
Cash in ambiguity

Editor: The Second Amendment contains only one sentence of 27 words but is one of the most ambiguous amendments. The lawsuit about the May 9 incident with Dickson City police over the right to bear arms seems like a way to cash in on this ambiguity.

The officers were faced with serious uncertainty and are to be commended for their prudence, good judgment and professionalism in trying to defuse a potentially serious situation.

Let’s hope the court rules with common sense so that the taxpayers of Dickson City are not hit in the pocketbook.



Note the name of the writer and compare it to the list of defendants in the first lawsuit. Can you say "desperate attempt to justify overreactions"? Come on - "serious uncertainty"?! Sounds like an admission of incompetence to me. It's also an interesting angle since the first lawsuit makes no mention of the 2nd Amendment whatsoever.

Mr. Mariano, if you're reading this: This is NOT a gun issue. You need to understand this to avoid repeating such blatant violations again, assuming you'll have the chance to continue your career in law enforcement.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Light posting

Haven't had a whole lot to post about, but there are a couple of things going on 'behind the scenes'.
  1. While attempting to rent a pavilion in Hazle Township, I encountered a park rule that violates PA's preemption statute. I e-mailed my concern to the people I was dealing with about the rental, and they have forwarded my concern to the Township Solicitor at my request. More details as the emerge.
  2. I'll be visiting the Dickson City/Wilkes-Barre area in person over the 4th of July weekend. We'll see if the law enforcement in these communities have changed their attitude (or at least their response) toward open carry in light of recent events. If I haven't posted anything by Monday, check the local police logs!

Two down, ? to go.

From PaOpenCarry:
June 21, 2007
Clifford, PA (Susquehanna County) - A fifth person has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Borough of Dickson City and members of the Dickson City Police Department due to the "open carry" incident at the Old Country Buffet in Dickson City, PA on May 9, 2008.

The plaintiff, Edward Kraft, Jr., of Clifford PA, seeks compensatory and punitive damages as a result of alleged civil rights violations suffered during the police response to a call about a group of people peaceably eating dinner, some of whom were openly carrying holstered handguns.

Kraft's action, filed in United States Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, follows a similar lawsuit filed by four other patrons on June 11 that were also involved in the incident. Kraft and the other four plaintiffs, one of whom was only armed with a video camera, claim they were doing nothing illegal or suspicious under Pennsylvania law and the police had no reason or authority to detain and search them, or confiscate their guns.

Press reports on the Dickson Dozen police roundup:

Police report:

Complaint can be read at:

Lawsuit Contacts: Lead counsel: Johanna L. Gelb, Esquire at (570) 343-6383

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More "Erring on the side of caution"?

The following first-hand account was posted by someone visiting a Dickson City business today:
I was in Joanne Fabric today out of total desperation for something and I asked the ladies if they were DC or Scranton. They told me they pay taxes to Scranton, but are in DC. I asked if they were questioned about -- I didn't even finish my question and they had a response.

Their policy is that customers are allowed to "have a gun" but that employees are not. They also told me that the manager told them that, if there was any kind of problem with someone carrying a gun, that they were to call the police and not mention anything about a gun because, if a gun is mentioned, the DC police are not coming. I made my $3.00 purchase and left.

I went back into the store and told them that I would shop in their store, unlike most DC businesses.
So much for not tailoring police response based on their allowing legal carry in their establishments.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The wheels continue to slowly turn.....

The next step in this admittedly slow process has finally happened. Today, four of the affected parties from the Dickson City incident filed suit in US District Court. The suit alleges six different counts of rights violations, and names both officers involved (Mariano & Gallagher), Chief Stadnitski and Dickson City as defendants. It will take a few days for the parties to be officially served notice, but due to the expected continuing media coverage, they should be aware of the suit before the process server tracks them down. Of course, once this happens, each defendant will have thirty day so submit their formal response before the matter is put on the court calendar.

As I understand it, at least one other party is filing separately, through their own attorney. Additional actions are likely as well, since both the quantity and variety of violations that occurred make it difficult to address them all in a single venue.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Vote for me and you could win too!

ParaUSA is having a special Gun-Bloggers weekend. The top 10 vote getters will be spending the weekend learning from Champion Shooter, Todd Jarrett. What's in it for you? Everyone who votes is also entered and one name will be drawn to fill the 11th spot. Please stop by ParaUSA's website and vote for GunTruth ( Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dickson City's "List"

Info on the list and links to all documents online can be found over at PAFOA.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A surprise in the mailbox

Today I received the return receipt back from the Post Office, confirming that my RTK request had been delivered to the Dickson City PD. Along with it was a large manila envelope from the Dickson City PD. It contained a cover letter, 3 copied notebook pages with a list of 95 businesses being polled (and most of their responses) and 18 letters or faxes from businesses stating their policy on firearms.

I plan to follow-up and make sure I get any balance of info collected when their 'project' is complete.

Friday, May 30, 2008

2 wins for the 'Dickson Dozen'

Today, Rich Banks finally regained possession of the firearm confiscated from him by the Dickson City Police. I don't have many details yet, but will update this post when Rich gives more info.

Also, Bob Durgin (WHP580 in Harrisburg, PA) had me on in regards to the RTK request I've filed with Chief Stadnitski. Still no official response on that, but Bob was very objective and the callers were unanimously critical of the Dickson City PD's actions.

If you missed the broadcast, you can download an .mp3 of my segment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Denials & Backpedaling

Apparently some of the Dickson City area media were interested in the Right To Know request I sent. The topic came up on local talk radio today where the Chief backpedaled his previous statements suggesting different responses to a call depending if the business was on the "I Hate Guns" list or not. He also attempted to sidestep my RTK request with the following reply:
There is no written documentation directing local business establishments comply with any type of request for prohibiting open or concealed gun carry on their property, an officer is contacting the business directly and asking if they currently have a policy either written or orally from management on firearms. Since the query is not complete a formal list of the responses has not been yet compiled. This information was passed on to the Scranton Times reporter but he wrote the article anyway. When the list is complete I would be more than happy to provide you with a copy. Chief Stadnitski
It's embarrassing to have to hold the hand of a public official, but at this point, I'm convinced that it's not an act...he's really this incompetent. I responded with the following clarification:
Chief Stadnitski,

Thank you for your prompt response. I look forward to your formal reply to this Right to Know Law request and the production of all your current records in this matter, including emails and personal notes. If you wish to wait until closer to the end of the 10 day period permitted under the law (so you can be as complete as possible) I understand, but at that time, any and all related documents are required to be produced, irregardless of whether your query is complete or how "formal" it's status is. This means that even if your officers are compiling a list on a notepad as they call or visit these businesses, that document is covered and legally obtainable under PA's Right To Know Law. It is not exempt simply because it is not on Department letterhead.
We'll see if this helps him get the point.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Banning guns ≠ less crime

John Lott has written a great Op Ed piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What's really going on here?

Based on the most recent article in the Scranton Times-Tribune, it seems Chief Stadnitski is attempting to have local business owners do what state law prohibits him from doing, namely, restricting legally carried firearms.
Chief Stadnitski said the police wanted that list so they know where in the borough they should respond should someone be openly carrying a gun. Otherwise, unless another law is broken, police will not respond to a report of a person carrying a gun in those businesses.
To me, this says that if you're not on the "We hate guns" list with the local PD, they won't bother to respond even if there's a legitimate crime being committed with a firearm. Someone's pointing a gun at the cashier?.....Sorry, they don't prohibit openly displayed guns in their business.

Further, because signs carry no legal weight in PA, the police still do not have legal grounds to intervene if someone is openly carrying a firearm in a business that has a sign posted. Unless they have been verbally asked to leave, and have refused, they have not committed any crime by simply ignoring the sign.

In an attempt to learn more on the Chief's actions and intentions, I've filed a Right To Know request with the Chief, and have copied both the Mayor and Borough Council President. Stay tuned for updates as they develop.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another "non-event" - in Gettysburg today

I attended a luncheon of area gun owners today in Gettysburg. Unlike Dickson City (but similar to dozens of similar outings all across PA) it was a total non-event (as far as police were concerned). We had 15 attendees, 12 of whom OC'd. We also collected $44.12 for the Dickson City legal fund. Thanks to all who came out today!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Dickson City Police Report - What we expected, only worse

Well, the Dickson City Police Report was released on Monday. It's a mix of CYA and surprising honesty as to some of the illegal acts they committed. Apparently they can't comprehend the simplicity of some of these legal points, despite being informed in person the night of the incident, again by many of us attending the City Council meeting the following Tuesday and numerous times in print as wells as on TV and radio. I predict there will some very interesting testimony when this finally makes it to court.

The entire fiasco began with the illegal detainment of those involved. The police can ask you anything you want, and you're free to ignore them. In order to 'detain' you, they must have "Reasonable Articulable Suspicion" that a crime has occurred, is occurring now or is about to occur AND that the person who is about to be stopped is the person who meets the prior criteria.

Here are some quotes directly from the police report:
The caller stated that the males were not doing anything wrong but the guns were on their sides visible and there were no badges displayed and felt this was wrong with children running around and requested police to check on it.
Ofc. Mariano and I (Gallagher) entered the restaurant and observed several males sitting at tables with what appeared to be their families. The above mentioned males had firearms (handguns) in holsters on their sides. Ofc Mariano approached one table while I went to another. I observed a male sitting at this table feeding his infant; the male had a handgun in a holster on his right side. I informed the male that we were called to the restaurant because people were concerned about the guns that he and other males had on their sides.
Even assuming that these officers are unfamiliar with Commonwealth v. Hawkins, both the caller and their own observations failed to note any 'suspicious' activity. Since RAS did not exist, ALL further actions were illegal

I should probably state 'for the record' that I was not present at the Old Country Buffet on the night in question, but I do know Rich Banks personally, and absolutely believe his version of what happened.

As I understand things, Officer Mariano asked for "weapons permits - concealed weapons permits" from "all you guys", not just from those who were concealing that night. In PA, there is no such thing as a "Concealed Weapons Permit". PA issues a License To Carry Firearms, which among other things, permits the holder to conceal a firearm on or about their person, but does not require them to do so, and does not bar them from open carry if they also hold a LTCF. Further, without RAS the request for LTCFs and IDs was also not proper, both in and of itself, and also because the original detainment was itself unlawful.

The report also alleges that Officer Gallagher "asked" that a video camera be turned off. My understanding is that consent to turn the camera off was declined, but it was indicated that if Officer Gallagher "demanded" that it be shut off, that they would comply (it's important to understand the difference between 'consent' and 'comply'). At this point, Officer Gallagher "demanded" that the camera be turned off, and it was.

Next, the report claims that Rich Banks "stated that he was concealing a weapon" and that he "stated that he would not provide us with identification". Rich's version is that he did not disclose the fact that he was concealing a B.U.G. until he was placed under arrest. Rich also maintains that he was not Mirandized at the time of arrest, or at any point during the encounter.

The report states that the reasons for Rich's arrest were:
1. Disorderly conduct - this charge is typically tacked on to almost anything as a 'catch all'. Neither the act of OC, knowing the law and your rights or asserting those rights comes remotely close to satisfying the legal standard.

2. Failure to provide ID - There is no such crime. There is absolutely no legal obligation to even posses, let alone present paper ID to the police. Rich offered to verbally identify himself if he was being 'detained'. The police either could not decide or chose not to articulate that he was being detained. Rich apparently went directly from a consentual conversation to being placed under arrest.

3. Failure to provide "concealed weapons permit" - Again, no such item in PA. Rich was open carrying a firearm, which requires no LTCF (Officer Mariano eventually stated he knew as much). His concealed B.U.G. was not disclosed until he was placed under arrest, and as they had no prior knowledge of that gun, the request for his "concealed weapons permit" while OCing was bogus.

Some more quotes:
Chief advised us to run identification and permits on all parties. He further advised us that we may run serial numbers of the weapons to be sure the weapons belonged to the carriers
I was told [by another officer] that as long as it was carried without being concealed that he could carry without a license to carry it if it was registered to him.
Upon checking with the chief of police I was advised that if it was not registered to him that he may not carry it and could release it to the registered owner Darcie if on scene, if she was not then I was to take the weapon and the owner would have to come to Police Headquarters to retrieve it.
Comm. Center advised me to call them in reference to the two weapons of Mr. Banks and was informed that the weapon he had concealed on his ankle a 9mm para serial number xxxxxxx was not registered and the other weapon that he had on his right side was registered to Mr Banks. I then received a call from another officer that they had spoken to the ADA and he was requesting to speak with me. I returned a call to ADA Kolcharno and informed him of the situation. He stated that he had just been reading the latest case laws after speaking with the other officer, He stated that a person cannot carry a firearm that is registered to someone else. I informed him of the 9mm of Mr Banks that it was not registered and the ADA informed me that he cannot carry a firearm that is not registered. He also approved the charge of Disorderly Conduct and would look into the failure to provide id and concealed weapons permit, but stated that I should release Mr Banks for the evening and file the charges. I asked ADA Kolcharno again about the weapon and he stated to take the weapon due to it not being registered. I then released Mr Banks and informed him of the above. Mr Banks stated that he is a federal firearms dealer and does not have to register a weapon. least Officers Gallagher and Mariano won't be in this alone. Yet again, without proper RAS at the beginning of the encounter, each and every one of these continued actions have no basis in law. Since there is no registry in PA (and such 'registration' is specifically prohibited by §6111.4), I'm not sure what the purpose of this act was. There are numerous scenarios where a legally possessed firearm is either not listed in the PSP database of sales and transfers or is listed under a name other than the person possessing or carrying it. Whether or not a gun comes up in the database, or who's name it comes back under is completely irrelevant.

Furthermore, the fact that Rich is a FFL has nothing to do with not having to 'register' a firearm, and he would not have done something as silly as suggest such a notion. NO ONE in PA is required to register a firearm.
Mr Banks informed me that if I took his weapon, from him that he would file a lawsuit.
Personal note: I know Rich to be an honest guy, and I fully expect him to keep this promise.
I secured the weapon in my vehicle and went to headquarters to place a property/evidence tag on it and lock it up. I also called the chief of police to update him and advise him that Mr. Banks would be in on Monday for his weapon and that I asked Mr. Banks to bring id showing he was a federal firearms dealer.
To date, the police have not returned Rich's firearm. Rich will not be providing proof of ownership or exemption from 'registration' to the Dickson City PD.

I noticed that the report posted by the newspaper indicated pages 3-5 of a 6-page fax. I wonder what the other 3 pages were? I also have a feeling that I know which side of the story the video will support.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Road Trip

After much internal debate, I took of work and headed off to Luzerne County to attend Dickson City's monthly meeting. About 30 of us showed up (many of us open carrying our firearms) to address city council.

We had originally planned to meet at the Old County Buffet where the incident occured last Friday, but they have since posted the establishment "No Firearms", so we moved to nearby Charlie Brown's Steakhouse. The manager, Tony Fenn welcomed us.

After routine business, which included statements from Counsel President, Barbara Mecca; and, Mayor, Anthony Zaleski endorsing and supporting the actions of the police, the floor was opened for public comment.

While two opposing views were clearly present, all parties were given an opportunity to speak. Considering the controversial subject matter, it's my opinion that things went very well. The police did not attempt to ID any carriers or seize their firearms to check for this phantom "registration".

After the meeting, we wanted to go somewhere to discuss the evening's happenings with Rich (who was not present at the meeting on the advice of his counsel). Since we knew Charlie Brown's didn't have an issue with our presence, we returned their and took advantage of their hospitality and excellent food again. Our post-meeting pow-wow was topped off by some delicious cake, which Mr. Fenn was kind enough to provide us at no charge.

Oh last thing.....My wife is right, and I'm ready to admit it: I'm an "activist".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Someone is about to be schooled!

I learned late last evening that a good friend of mine was arrested after police responded to an Old Country Buffet where he was attending a dinner of area gun owners. Everyone with firearms openly displayed was taken outside, where the police demanded ID of everyone and illegally ran the serial numbers of the firearms.

This friend offered verbal identification, but refused producing "papers", since he was not participating in a 'privileged' activity and not legally bound to do so. He was arrested for "failure to identify himself" and disorderly conduct. He was released at the scene later that evening before being transported or booked (because they had nothing that would hold water and they KNEW it).

They also would not return one of his firearms, since it was not in the "illegal database that's not a registry". This friend is a FFL, which means the officers involved committed a theft from a FFL, which is a Federal crime. I'm certain there will be further legal action against the agencies involved, and I will post new details as they develop.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More details on the Commissioners' smackdown

After speaking to my own Representative, I went ahead and e-mailed all of the Representatives for Franklin County. Rep. Rob Kauffman actually called me back to further discuss my ordeal and recent thoughts and told me he would get back with me when the 'official' response to the Commissioners was ready. Today, I received the following e-mail (bold added by me):
Dear Greg,

Thanks for your e-mail. As a follow-up to our telephone conversation a couple of weeks ago, Reps. Keller, Moul, Rock and I are sending a letter to the Franklin County Commissioners. The letter outlines the current PA statutes that could be used to prosecute coercive or inappropriate behavior at polling places. We also note that their letter stems from one particular incident in Franklin County at a recent election, in which their were no arrests for any offense under either the Crimes Code or Election Code.

Finally, and most importantly, we state that "We have concerns about limiting the exercise of one important constitutional right during the exercise of another. Given the extensive nature of current Commonwealth law regarding inappropriate behavior in any location, as well as additional laws which apply specifically to coercive activity at polling places, we believe the legislature has provided significant resources to address any concerns about intimidation at the polls."

Thanks for your continued advocacy on this issue.

Best regards,

Rob Kauffman
State Representative
89th Legislative District
I appreciate the clear and firm position they have stated on my behalf.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nice try Franklin County Commissioners

While in Harrisburg for a day of pro-gun events, I was able to have a conversation with my own state Representative, Todd Rock. Rep. Rock was supportive of my position during the appeal of my LTCF revocation, and went so far as to have his office (I don't know if he did it personally or not) contact Sheriff Wollyung on my behalf.

Anyhow, after expressing his pleasure at the outcome of my case, he told me that the Franklin County Commissioners had written a letter to the Franklin County legislators, urging them to draft and offer legislation prohibiting the carrying of firearms in PA polling places. He told me that they would all be signing a response which will basically say, "No thanks."

I'm not shocked by either the request or the response, but thought I'd share the info since it's probably not something your going to see in the local news rag.

A rally, some lobbying, and passed legislation

I was very pleased to be able to attend the "Second Amendment Liberty in PA SECOND TO NONE" rally yesterday in Harrisburg. I enjoyed seeing some familiar fellow-members of the PAFOA, as well as meeting some for the first time.

The day started with some excellent speeches. Notable guests were Dr. Alan Keyes, Larry Pratt (Gun Owners of America) and Alan Gottleib (Second Amendment foundation). After the one-hour rally, we split up into groups, making visits to individual legislators, both to thank those who supported our cause, and to discuss our difference with those who did not.

After lunch, we made a few more visits, and then at 3:30, went to the House gallery to observe the day's proceedings. We had heard that HB1845 (with attached amendments from below) was on the schedule, but we were unsure if it would actually be called. We were pleasantly surprised to hear it called while we were present, and absolutely thrilled to witness it pass unanimously (200-0).

On our way out, a handful of us stopped for a quick photo outside of the Commonwealth Avenue entrance.

Pictured from left to right are PAFOA users dan, Sebastian, Pro2A, JDePietro, Pa. Patriot and gnbrotz.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Local Reps. cast pro-gun votes

Snowflakes in Hell has a nice little table detailing the firearm-related amendments from yesterday. Here's how our Franklin County State Representatives voted on the amendments:

A06414: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06170: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06346: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06467: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06378: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06465: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06348: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06415: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06178: Keller - N, Kauffman - N, Rock - N, Moul - N
A06542: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y
A06547: Keller - Y, Kauffman - Y, Rock - Y, Moul - Y