Bill Over Armed Citizens In Emergencies Stirs Things Up A Bit

The state of Pennsylvania has a bit of law that should be concerning to anyone who values the Second Amendment. In state law, there’s language that prohibits the carrying of firearms without a permit. Now, for many of us, this doesn’t sound like too big of a deal. There are several states that don’t allow that sort of thing, after all.

However, Pennsylvania has unlicensed open carry. Individuals can openly carry a firearm without a permit under normal circumstances.

The problem arises when the governor declares a state of emergency. Then, only those who are actively defending their lives or who have a permit can carry a firearm anywhere that’s not private property.

A bill was recently introduced to try and fix this. Now, the debate on that bill is starting to heat up.

As Pennsylvanians have taken to the Capitol steps in recent months to protest their government, some decided to take a shotgun or assault rifle along for the ride.

But many of those demonstrators may have been breaking a rarely enforced state law that bans openly carrying firearms during an official disaster declaration.

That potential collision of the right to bear arms and the state’s police power was eliminated by a bill that passed the state House in late June.

Legal observers say the law, as written, is on solid constitutional ground, but their opponents strenuously disagree.

Gov. Tom Wolf has declared two states of emergencies in the past months — the ongoing statewide COVID-19 emergency declaration, as well as a temporary declaration because of Black Lives Matter protests in some of the Commonwealth’s cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Dowling, R-Fayette, would remove these provisions from law. The legislation passed the House on 127-74 on June 24 and is now in the Senate.

All but two of the House’s 109 Republicans, and 21 of 93 Democrats, supported it.

“Unfortunately, in the last few months, we’ve seen how easy it is for one person to choose to declare a state of emergency,” Dowling said in a statement. He added that it’s critical gun rights “remain in place, even if the governor announces an emergency declaration.”

This isn’t the first time a bill like this has been introduced, either. Two years ago, gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner introduced a similar bill after Gov. Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency to address the opioid epidemic.

Now, he’s declared two more states of emergency in recent months.

With the governor being able to declare states of emergency so easily, there’s reason to be concerned about gun rights in the state. Of course, Wolf has no such concerns because, well, he’s an anti-gunner and doesn’t give a damn about those particular rights. He’s fine with infringing on the liberties of Pennsylvanians.

No, he doesn’t need that kind of authority. With Wolf’s anti-gun sentiment, this is the kind of authority I could see him abusing if the mood struck. I think the only reason he hasn’t yet is that he just hasn’t thought about it. Infringe on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of his state has been a side benefit thus far, not a goal.

All this bill seeks to do is maintain the status quo that exists outside of states of emergency. That’s what Wolf is objecting to by objecting to this bill–and he is objecting.

Which is more than enough reason to support it all on its own.