Daryl Metcalfe

Question: Why Can’t Washington Legislators Support Common Sense Gun Violence Bills? Answer: They are Politicians!

We learned this week that the Senate Democrats have dropped an effort to include a ban on assault weapons from their broader gun control plan expected to be introduced to Congress next month.  They conceded that a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines did not have the votes to pass.  However, VP Joe Biden is refusing to give up on the assault weapon ban; questioning the courage of members of Congress.  He stated, “…That weapon of war has no place on American streets, and taking it off American streets has no impact on one’s constitutional right to own a weapon.”

Seriously, what does it take to get these weapons off the streets?  In December, Adam Lanza committed mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School using a Bushmaster AR-15 “assault-type weapon”, a semiautomatic rifle that could rapidly fire multiple rounds.  Lanza was also equipped with magazine clips that held 30 bullets each.  If the innocent killing of 26 people isn’t the impetus for banning assault weapons in this country, what is? It is heartbreaking that some Washington legislators are more interested in the support of special interest groups than in doing what is right and passing a common sense gun violence bill. I would like to see these politicians forced to own their conscience in a roll-call vote; let us publicly see which side of the issue they stand.

Could our forefathers ever have envisioned Americans using assault weapons when designing the Second Amendment of the Constitution? How is that people can argue that banning assault weapons violates the 2nd amendment … this country had an assault weapon ban for 10 years and I do not recall it was ever legally challenged as unconstitutional.  The assault weapon ban simply expired.  If the argument is that assault weapons should not be banned because the Constitution does not specifically say that, why not take that argument further; the Constitution also doesn’t specify that the mentally ill or felons cannot own guns.

Unlike the United States, Australia was successful in passing legislation to ban assault weapons in 1996, in response to the massacre of 35 people.  Australia’s law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns.  It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons.

For those who would like to argue that banning assault weapons in the United States would not make a difference, I suggest that Australia’s statistics say otherwise.  According to an Australian National University study, the firearm homicide rate fell by 59% and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65% in the decade after the 1996 law was introduced.  These statistics indicate that Australia’s experience with an assault weapon ban provides strong evidence for the effectiveness of such legislation.  In addition, it should be noted that Australia’s sweeping gun control measures occurred twelve days after the April 28, 1996 massacre, the worse mass murder in Australia’s history.   In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, with our nation shocked and looking for answers, why can’t we learn from Australia’s example? Why reinvent the wheel, when Australia has successfully prevented gun massacres for over 15 years by banning assault type weapons and magazine clips over 10 rounds?

To be clear, I get it that stronger gun legislation, through banning of assault weapons and reducing clip sizes is not necessarily a favorable position, particularly among some in Pennsylvania. Taking the discussion to the state level, I was troubled to read a press release from the office of PA State Rep Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler).  He and fellow State Representative, Seth Grove (R-York) announced that they are actively pursuing out-of-state gun manufacturers and encouraging their relocation to Pennsylvania, claiming that our state has the “single largest per capita representation of National Rifle Association (NRA) members”.

According to Metcalfe, who is the prime sponsor of the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act (House Bill 357), “Pennsylvania is a natural fit for any of our nation’s major producers of guns, ammunition, or accessories that are currently looking for a new home due to the imposition of senseless, gun-grabbing legislation by their state or local governments.”

Passionate supporters of the Second Amendment and motivated by economic development, Metcalfe and Grove are rolling out the welcome mat to woo gun manufacturers including Beretta and Remington, to the Commonwealth.  With Metcalfe and Grove posing as the front men for the NRA, there should be no doubt, where these two stand on banning assault weapons.

Buoyed by his proposed legislation, House Bill 357, Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, Metcalfe is determined to override any gun restrictions that Washington may come up with – HB 357 would actually prohibit the enforcement of any new federal registration, restriction or prohibition requirement for privately owned guns and ammunition.  If passed, the bill further would require the state of Pennsylvania, including the Attorney General, to intercede on behalf of the citizens against any federal attempt to restrict, register or ban gun purchases, which are currently legal products.

I don’t claim to be any constitutional scholar but how is it possible that a state law, like HB 357 (should it pass) could legally stand up against a federal law?  Wouldn’t any federal law, like banning the sale of assault weapons, take precedent over Metcalfe’s proposed House Bill 357? Nevertheless, Metcalfe and Grove are using their pro-gun message to reach out to gun manufacturers in less gun-friendly states, in hopes of encouraging them to relocate to Pennsylvania.

Is this the new approach to economic development in Pennsylvania?

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Against Illegal Guns in Pennsylvania

If you follow Community Matters, you know that I support stricter gun control legislation. At the risk of causing another heated exchange over the rights of gun owners, I have an issue with Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) House Bill 1523 that is on Monday’s agenda in Harrisburg. The state House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take a vote on Metcalfe’s proposed pro-gun legislation HB1523 that would hold municipalities financially accountable for enacting gun laws. (To read proposed HB1523, click here).

I understand the meaning of the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right of the people to keep and to bear arms. However, I think that most of us could agree that the 2nd amendment was not designed to protect the rights of people to keep and bear ‘illegal’ arms. Every year, thousands of criminals use guns that have been lost or stolen from legitimate owners.

A major research project is not necessary to know that most crimes in America are committed using illegal guns. However for the record, according to their website, www.wheredidtheguncomefrom.com, “… over 80% of guns recovered in crimes are obtained by perpetrators illegally.”

Assuming that you are a responsible gun owner and a supporter of the 2nd amendment; why would you not support keeping illegal guns off the street?  If you discovered that your firearm has been lost or stolen, why would you not support reporting it missing to the local police?  I cannot imagine under what conditions, a gun owner would not want to do this.

Reporting lost or stolen guns would help the local police with gun trafficking and crack down on straw purchases — people who buy guns and then sell them illegally to people who can’t buy them on their own.  Isn’t this commonsense reform? How’s it any different from someone stealing your car — you’d report that to the police, wouldn’t you?

In Pennsylvania, a gun owner does not have to report their firearm lost or stolen.  But some municipalities have ordinances that require gun owners to report the loss or theft of a gun to the local police, within a certain time from when they discover the gun is missing.  Each municipality determines the time. These 14 cities in Pennsylvania have passed lost and stolen firearm reporting ordinances:

  • Allentown
  • Clairton
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Homestead
  • Lancaster
  • Munhall
  • Oxford
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Pottsville
  • Reading
  • West Homestead
  • Wilkinsburg

These cities and towns across Pennsylvania have taken action to crack down on illegal gun trafficking, but on Monday, Harrisburg may overturn these local decisions. House Bill 1523 threatens to punish cities and towns for taking local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers and straw purchasers.  Philadelphia and the other cities could face financial penalties for enacting their own gun-control measures that supersede state law.  The bill would allow any gun owner challenging the local ordinance to collect legal fees and damages from the city that passed such an ordinance.

If members of the house Judiciary Committee are serious about upholding the law of Pennsylvania, they should follow the example set by these 14 municipalities!   Rather than “cracking down” on communities that don’t follow the gun lobby’s agenda, the Judiciary Committee should recommend a statewide lost or stolen firearms reporting requirement that would help the local police with their efforts to crack down on illegal guns on the streets.

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As an addendum to this post, look for an unprecedented commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday.  The mayors of Boston and New York may be cheering for opposing teams but they are on the same side when it comes to gun control.  New York City’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Thomas Menino have filmed a 30-second commercial for stricter gun control legislation, which will air during the big game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Bloomberg and Menino are founders of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition which lists over 600 mayors across the country as members.

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Is the proposed PA Voter ID Bill necessary or costly and unfair?

We see school districts struggling to make payroll; debate on privatizing liquor stores; 9 percent unemployment and empty storefronts across the state.  However, the topic getting much press lately is the Pennsylvania voter identification bill.

If the proposed photo ID bill (HB 934) becomes law before the November election, it will require every Pennsylvania voter to show a current Pennsylvania license or federal government-issued ID, college photo ID or a care facility-issued ID.  If the voter does not have one of these photo IDs, he/she will not be permitted to vote.

Currently, Pennsylvania voters are only required to show identification if they are voting in a polling place for the first time – and it does not require that the voter to use a photo ID.  Acceptable IDs include firearms permit, a bank statement, a paycheck or a current utility bill as long as the ID has a name and address (photo not required).

You need an ID to be able to check out a book at the library.  Why shouldn’t you need one at the polls?  The answer is that our right to vote is constitutionally protected whereas library privileges are not.  A library can charge a fee for a library card but we would cringe at the idea of a poll tax.

Supporters of the voter ID bill believe that the legislation will increase voter participation and lower the chances of electoral fraud.  They suggest that voter ID is the only way to keep our elections fair and that voter identification legislation ensures ballot integrity.

However, those that oppose the voter ID bill say it unfairly targets the poor, elderly and minority voters who, more often than others, don’t have a photo ID.  Critics of voter identification legislation further claim that there has been almost no evidence of rampant voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

The debate of the PA voter ID bill is fraught with racial and political implications.  The debate is a divisive issue with strong partisan overtones.  Opponents of voter ID legislation say that requiring a photo ID will disenfranchise certain voting groups.  Since these voting groups tend to vote for Democrats, the opposition to voter ID laws tends to come from Democrats.

Democrats are wary of the motivations of the Republicans, saying that the Republicans want to take votes away from the Democrats.   Conversely, the Republicans are wary of the Democrats’ motivations, saying that the Democrats are relying on voter fraud to get their votes.

My view?  I see both sides of the debate.

From my pro voter ID viewpoint, I believe that requiring identification to vote sounds logical.  Unless we have something to hide, what is the problem with showing an ID whenever we vote?  It makes sense that requiring photo identification to vote helps ensure election integrity and protect the rights of voters.

Defending his proposed voter ID bill, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R –Butler County) states “. . . my Pennsylvania Voter Identification Protection Act (House Bill 934) is a common-sense safeguard that will only disenfranchise integrity-deficient individuals seeking to perpetuate fraud and corruption at the polls.”

However, my opposing voter ID viewpoint does not want to see seniors, low-income citizens and minorities disproportionately impacted by the proposed voter identification legislation.  Plus, there is the cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers to implement the voter ID process; especially at a time when our state (like the rest of the country) is struggling financially.  According to a study by nonpartisan PA Budget and Policy Center, HB 934 will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $11 million in the first year alone, with millions more every year after that.

Bottom line . . .  I think a legitimate voter’s right to vote absolutely should not be curtailed.  I also want the integrity of the voting process ensured; voter fraud should not be allowed to happen.  Where does that leave me on HB 934 – seeing both sides.

Is the proposed PA Voter ID Bill necessary or costly and unfair?

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Do Political Campaign Signs influence your vote? How About in the Drucker vs Kampf election?

Do political campaign signs make a difference in in election results?  Do they influence individual voter decisions? Do how many signs a candidate has, or conversely a perceived lack of signs by individual candidates have any effect on voters? 

In driving around the township yesterday, there certainly is a plethora of political signage. At least now, the leftover campaign signs of former Republican Lieutenant Governor Candidate Daryl Metcalfe are no longer alone.  Metcalfe came in a distant third in the May primary but his red and white signs remain ever-present in our community 5 months later!  Which begs the question, which is responsible for removal of the signs post-election . . .  the candidate, the political party, volunteers?

Political signs display grassroots support. When voters display your political campaign signs in their yards, it shows neighbors that they believe in you enough to temporarily alter the landscape of their property. Recognizing the power of that association, does that influence other voters? 

Among the traditional campaign signs, I noted a new political sign, ‘Republican for Paul Drucker’.  As a Democrat and incumbent State House Representative Candidate, Paul is looking to gather support from the registered voters of the opposing party.  Do we expect that the Warren Kampf campaign will likewise use signage touting registered democrat voter support?  With the growing ‘Independent’ party affiliation among voters, is there signage claiming ‘Independent for Drucker’ or ‘Independent for Kampf’ on the horizon from either candidate?

Voter turnout was very low in the primary and historically Tredyffrin Township has not fared much differently in the general election (especially non-presidential election years).  However, with the Governor’s race at stake this year, can we hope for a better than average turnout.  Low voter turnouts make is easier for single-issue candidates and candidates with narrow but deep support make a good showing.  If you are one of those folks, than you probably don’t want to tell the public when the election is.  However, if you are a serious candidate with broad appeal than why not tell the public when to vote. 

To inform the voters, and build interest in the fact that there’s an election date coming, why not some signs stating Election Day November 2 or at least on Tuesday, November 2, signs that say “Today’s the day”. 

As a registered voter hoping for greater voter turnout, Election Day signage is something that I could support!  I’d like to make a suggestion that the township as a public service could set-up those temporary sign boards to notify the public of the upcoming election.

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