Valley Forge National Historical Park

Bambi May Soon Have Another Day to Worry About Hunters

It has been awhile since I visited the topic of gun control and 2nd amendment rights on Community Matters.  For those that followed the gun control discussion, you may recall my dismay last year over the federal legislation that lifted the ban on guns in national parks (including Valley Forge).   

The blog post, Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer?  generated much debate in the 50+ comments on guns in national parks, many from 2nd Amendment supporters. As a result, my naïveté on guns and gun controls was put to the test.  That discussion extended to a broader discussion of gun control in our community.  I learned that many living in this community not only supported their right as an American to bear arms, but that it was clear from comments, that many did! 

Although not swayed by the overwhelming pro-gun rights comments, I did find myself sitting in the minority; continuing to support stricter gun control rules. I wrote, ” . . . I know the argument that strict gun control does not reduce crime because it does not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not abide by waiting periods or registration requirements. The only people affected by these so-called ‘gun control’ measures are law-abiding citizens, who are rendered less able to resist crime.  However almost daily, our world is filled with news of gun violence in this country . . . in shopping malls, on college campuses, office buildings. . . “

In addition to discussing 2nd amendment rights and gun-control issues, Community Matters visited the subject of the overpopulation of deer in the area, specifically in Valley Forge National Historical Park.  With a two-year plan in place, skilled sharp shooters began last winter to reduce the deer population from 1,250 to 200 in the park.  Although I cringed at the idea of guns in Valley Forge Park and the shooting of deer, I took solace in knowing that 7,000 pounds of venison was donated to the needy.

At this point, I am sure you are wondering why this walk down memory lane?  Answer: deer hunting.  I do not claim to know much about deer hunting – I actually don’t know the dates of deer hunting season.  I do not know when it is ‘bow’ season any more than I know when it is gun season for deer hunting, nor do I know many deer per hunter is allowed – just don’t know any of the specifics.  I am not a hunter so why would I need to know this information.  As a “stricter gun control supporter”, and probably not likely to become a deer hunter, I do admit I was interested to learn of House Bill 1760 that would allow deer hunting on Sundays.  Deer hunting on Sundays . . . ?  I didn’t know that Sunday deer hunting was illegal in Pennsylvania.  Apparently, hunters in Pennsylvania can legally kill foxes, coyotes and crows on Sunday, just not deer. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states that do not permit Sunday deer hunting. 

According to a recent Daily Local article, “ . . . Sunday hunting is expected to generate $629 million in additional spending and create up to 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax. . . ”  In addition, Sunday hunting is expected to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license revenue.

So here’s my question. . .  if the current law allows deer hunting 6 days a week, why not allow hunting all 7 days of the week?  I may not be a gun-supporter nor a deer hunter (and I appreciated that I am in the minority) but I don’t understand ‘why’ deer hunters cannot hunt on Sundays?  I guess I can see the purpose of House Bill 1760 – if you support deer hunting 6 days a week, why not support deer hunting on Sundays.

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Gun-Related Stories Too Close to Home

The Valley Forge National Historical Park has reached about half of its goal of deer reduction for this winter.  To date the sharp shooters have killed 225 deer as part of the operation to reduce the deer population.  Over the next two years, the park plans to reduce the deer population from about 1,250 to under 200. I know that we have a deer problem; I see the problem in my backyard each day.  I just cringe with the idea of guns in the park and the shooting of the deer.  Why can’t there be a better way – and no, I don’t think coyotes are the answer.  I rationalize that the ‘good news’ to this story is that 7,000 pounds of venison as been donated to the needy.

On the subject of guns, a couple of other recent gun-related stories caught my attention.  According to a police report, there was a recent road-rage incident on Valley Forge Road near Swedesford Road.  The incident occurred at 3 PM in the afternoon on a Saturday afternoon and involved two people.  Police say that Kevin Miller, 33 of Plymouth Meeting was arrested for making terroristic threats and Kathleen Penjuke, 40 of King of Prussia was issued a citation for disorderly conduct.  It is alleged that Miller waved a gun at an unidentified victim and that Penjuke gestured and yelled at the victim as they passed on the shoulder of the road.  The police report does not indicate any further information and the people involved apparently have not had their court date.  The scary part of the story is that we have someone in a car ‘waving a gun’ at another individual.

This other story is just sad.  This past Friday afternoon in Westtown a 14-yr. old boy shot and killed his 12-yr. old sister.  How could this happen?  Although the police investigation has not determined all the details, I will choose to believe it was a tragic accident.   The blame must go beyond the young boy that pulled the trigger.  Why was this firearm not secured?  Where were the responsible adults in the house?  Depending on the outcome of this case, the parents may lose not one but could possibly lose both of these children.

I accept that there are readers of Community Matters who completely support the right for individuals to own and carry guns.  However, hearing these gun-related stories reaffirms for me that we need stricter gun-control laws. I just cannot believe that our founding fathers could have imagined the world as it now is when designing the Constitution.

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King of Prussia Mall Parking Lot . . . Saturday Afternoon . . . Gunpoint Robbery

This morning, there was an online news article from The Mercury with the following story. Most readers would probably have given the King of Prussia police report but a passing glance, and I too would likely have skipped over it, . . .  that is until the subject of guns in Valley Forge National Historical Park became a topic last week.  Until that new federal law was instituted allowing weapons in Valley Forge park,  I was naively going through life not giving much thought to guns in general, let alone in Tredyffrin Township.

But the reality is that now I do read the police report about the armed robbery on Saturday afternoon in the parking area of the King of Prussia Mall.   The commentary on gun ownership, individual protection, the NRA, Second Amendment rights, etc. has provided many of us with new information.  Whether its the discussion on Second Amendment rights in Valley Forge National Historical Park, or an armed robbery at our local shopping mall, this dicussion has served to open my eyes.  Gone is my innocent thinking that guns are only somewhere else . . . I am much more informed on the subject. 

    King of Prussia Mall Employee Robbed at Gunpoint

Published: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

KING OF PRUSSIA — An employee of The Court at King of Prussia was robbed at gunpoint Sunday afternoon in the mall parking lot, police said. Upper Merion police are investigating the robbery and asking the public’s help to nab a suspect.

The 20-year-old mall employee had gone from the store where he worked to his vehicle on the first level of the Court parking garage at 4:25 p.m., when he was accosted by a man with a handgun, police said. “He was going out to retrieve something out of his car,” Upper Merion Police Lt. James Early said. The officer said the incident occurred in the garage not far from Allendale Road.

The assailant reportedly pointed a black semi-automatic gun at the worker and demanded his wallet. After the victim turned over his wallet, the robber fled west on Court Boulevard toward Mall Boulevard. Investigators don’t believe the gunman knew the mall employee. Armed robberies are “pretty rare” in and around the sprawling 3-million-square-foot shopping mall complex that includes King of Prussia Plaza, The Court at King of Prussia and The Pavilion, Early said. The mall has more than 400 retail stores and dozens of restaurants.

The gunman was described as a black male in his early 20s with short black hair. He wore a black zip-up jacket and dark jeans, authorities said. Police searched the area but were unable to locate a suspect. “We’re asking anyone who witnessed the crime to call our detectives,” Early said.

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Continuing the Local Gun Discussion . . . Supreme Court to Weigh in on Chicago's Handgun Ban . . . Will High Court Uphold Federal Law Over State Law? What Does this Mean for Pennsylvania Gun Owners?

When I wrote Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer? a couple of days ago, I could never have forecasted the interest in the topic.  Although admittedly surprised by many of the responses (50 comments on this topic!), I was fascinated by the strong opinions of many in this community.  The ‘right to bear arms’ topic has opened up conversations (and debates) among family members and friends.  I had intended to move on from this topic but I received several emails over the weekend encouraging further discussion.  I feel strongly that we learn from each other by exchanging ideas and information.  The evolution of Community Matters as a new informal communication channel can help to educate us, if we are willing to listen to each other.  Although I would be the first one to encourage lively debate, I would ask that you be respectful with your comments.

Several people commented on the June 2008  Supreme Court decision which struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., and declared that individuals have a constitutional right to possess firearms for self-defense and other purposes. The Washington, D.C. lawsuit marked the first time that the highest court ruled that US citizens have a right to own guns for self-defense. The Second Amendment to the Constitution speaks of the right to bear arms in the context of a “well-regulated militia.” 

Over the weekend, we were out to dinner with friends at Majolica www.majolicarestaurant.com in Phoenixville (highly recommend!) and  spent much of the evening discussing the Second Amendment law, the new federal park gun legislation and many comments and opinion that were shared on this blog. 

There is a new Second Amendment Supreme Court case which will look at the handgun law in the city of Chicago.  The Supreme Court argument starting tomorrow will decide whether the Second Amendment — like much of the rest of the Bill of Rights — applies to states as well as the federal government. It’s widely believed they will say it does.

This new Second Amendment Supreme Court lawsuit was filed by an elderly, African-American Chicago resident who said he wants to defend himself.  Otis McDonald, 76, is suing the city over its gun ban, says he keeps a 20-guage shotgun at home to protect himself from the neighborhood gangs. But even if the court strikes down handgun bans in Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, that are at issue in the argument to be heard Tuesday, it could signal that less severe rules or limits on guns are permissible. An interesting aside to this latest lawsuit is that Chicago is President Obama’s hometown. The US Supreme Court justices will be deciding whether the Second Amendment right of every US citizen to possess arms for self-defense should apply to local as well as federal laws. The latest high court lawsuit will look at Chicago’s 1982  ban on handguns; determining whether federal decisions should apply to local law.

On the eve of this latest Second Amendment case, I was interested in understanding what the Pennsylvania State laws were in regard to gun ownership, age, restrictions, etc.  Although I claimed to be naive on the subject of local gun ownership in my last post, I researched Pennsylvania’s current legislation.  The following is offered to those who are also uninformed on the subject of owning firearms in Pennsylvania.  I don’t recall anyone mentioning the ‘open carry’ policy. 

Would you rather people have their guns out in the open, or concealed?  Do you think that the open display of weapons would help (or hurt) possible incidents of violence?  I am curious how the police feel about the ‘open carry’ policy . . . wonder if they would rather know that a person is armed?

Owning Firearms in Pennsylvania

  1. Do I have to register my firearms in Pennsylvania?
    No, in fact in Pennsylvania it is actually illegal for any government or police agency to keep a registry of firearms per 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4 (Registration of firearms). If you legally possess and bring your firearms into Pennsylvania or come into possession of the firearms legally, no further action is required.It should be noted however that all transfers of handguns in Pennsylvania are required to go through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) and as such the Pennsylvania State Police keep a “Sales Database” of all handguns purchased within the Commonwealth. While almost any casual observer can see that this database clearly violates the spirit of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4 (Registration of firearms), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with the Pennsylvania State Police that because the database is not a complete record of all handgun ownership (as people bringing handguns into the state do not have to register them), it does not.
  2. How old must one be to possess a firearm? Per 18 Pa.C.S. § 6110.1 (Possession of firearm by minor), the minimum age to possess a firearm is 18 with two exceptions:
    1. The minor is under the supervision of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or an adult acting with the expressed consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian and involved in lawful activity.
    2. The minor is lawfully involved in hunting or trapping activities.

Is open carry legal in PA?

Answer: Yes, with some restrictions.

Anyone whom can legally own a firearm in the commonwealth can openly carry, on foot, with the exception of court facilities, federal buildings, motor vehicles and cities of the first class (Philadelphia)  While Pennsylvania has a specific law that requires a License To Carry Firearms for the concealed carry of a firearm, and the carry of firearms in vehicles, the law is silent on the legality of openly carrying a firearm in other situations; which if I understand the law makes it de-facto legal. 18 Pa.C.S. § 6108: Carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia

  • No person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public streets or upon any public property in a city of the first class unless:

(1) such person is licensed to carry a firearm; or

(2) such person is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) of this title (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).

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