In an article published today – Gov. Wolf: Opioid declaration doesn’t affect gun rights – Governor Wolf’s spokesman J.J. Abbott is quoted as stating that I am “flat-out wrong” in relation to the impact of Governor Wolf’s Opioid Proclamation on firearm rights, as set forth in the two articles that I have written on the topic. The first article is: With a Stroke of a Pen, PA Governor Wolf Limits Firearm Rights by Proclaiming State of Emergency. The second is: Are the Great American Outdoors Show (GAOS) and State Game Land Hunting in Jeopardy as a Result of Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Emergency?
As neither Mr. Abbott nor the Governor (or anyone from his Office for that matter) has reached out to me and provided me with the seemingly canned statement that they are providing to reporters, for purposes of this article, I will rely on the statements reported in the Public Opinion article, which, as I address below, are nothing but smoke and mirrors and fail to address the real concerns, including the impact to the Great American Outdoors Show.
But first, since Mr. Abbott felt it necessary to call into question my legal aptitude, it is necessary to address his and the Governor’s qualification to provide legal advice. As they are surely aware, the unauthorized practice of law is a criminal offense, pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 2524, where the first offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree and a second or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree. In reviewing the attorney lookup of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, it does not appear that either Mr. Abbott nor Governor Wolf are licensed attorneys. Hopefully, someone within the Governor’s Office with an actual juris doctorate has reviewed the legal issues.
Regardless of whether the Mr. Abbott or Governor Wolf are attorneys, or whether someone within the Governor’s Office who is an attorney reviewed the legal issues, it is important for the the citizens of the Commonwealth, as well as the non-citizens who will be attending the Great American Outdoors Show, to know that any statement by the Governor as to the applicability of the law to a set of facts is immaterial and does not preclude a court of law from convicting you, even if your conduct comports with the conduct approved by the Governor.
But let’s put all of that aside and look at exactly what the canned statement said. As reported in the article:
The governor’s declaration does not allow for law enforcement to confiscate firearms, and the governor worked with law enforcement to ensure that his actions to fight this epidemic have no impact on citizens and their firearm rights.
And what does this have to do with my articles? While I absolutely mention the prohibition on government confiscation found in Section 6107, at no point did I ever claim that the Proclamation authorized the seizure or confiscation of firearms. In fact, in my first article, I explicitly stated that “Section 6107 specifically prevents any form of confiscation of firearms, accessory or ammunition from occurring solely as a result of a state of emergency.” Seemingly benefiting from my article, the Governor’s statement then goes on to corroborate that “[t]he law specifically does not allow for any firearms to be seized, taken or confiscated as a result of the disaster declaration.” So, at least this portion of the statement is merely an attempt to distract the reader from the actual issues raised in my articles. But what about the rest?
The statement goes on to declare that:
A declaration specifically has no effect on people with a concealed firearms license, someone using a firearm with an active hunting license or someone open carrying a firearm if actively engaged in self-defense.
For a minute, let’s set aside the Superior Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Anderson. How exactly are my articles and legal conclusions “flat-out wrong”? In my first article, I specifically addressed that individuals with licenses to carry firearms (LTCFs) were exempt, as were individuals who were actively engaged in self-defense. And in my second article, I specifically addressed hunting on state game lands. Once again, it seems as though the Governor’s Office has to rely on my articles to determine the law and then in their statement, although stating I am “flat-out wrong,” agree with my legal conclusions.
See how that works? They claim both Senator Scott Wagner and I am providing misinformation, then agree with the information I provided, while sidestepping the actual issues and concerns that I raised. So, let’s look at the issues that I have raised and which their statement fails to address.
Commonwealth v. Anderson
As it runs afoul of their narrative, the statement fails to address the Superior Court’s en banc decision in Commonwealth v. Anderson, where the court held that the “exceptions” found in Section 6106(b) are “defenses” that need to be proven at trial. Thus, any individual claiming “exception” under Section 6106(b) can be prosecuted and forced to argue the exception as a defense to the prosecution. This is extremely important since it would apply to anyone claiming exemption under Section 6106(b), including hunters and many of the vendors and attendees of the Great American Outdoors Show, as discussed further below. It appears that the Governor’s Office did not feel is necessary to advise everyone of this extremely concerning aspect, especially in light of it running contrary to their contention that the Proclamation has “no impact on citizens and their firearm rights.”
Open Carrying Absent an LTCF
Once again, the statement is devoid of any mention in relation to individuals who open carry a firearm absent an LTCF. In Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 547 Pa. 652 (1997), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court explicitly acknowledged that
[i]n all parts of Pennsylvania, persons who are licensed may carry concealed firearms. 18 Pa.C.S. § 6108. Except in Philadelphia, firearms may be carried openly without a license. See Ortiz v. Commonwealth, 545 Pa. 279, , 681 A.2d 152, 155 (1996) (only in Philadelphia must a person obtain a license for carrying a firearm whether it is unconcealed or concealed; in other parts of the Commonwealth, unconcealed firearms do not require a license)
As a result of Proclamation and interplay of Section 6107, individuals, who do not have an LTCF, are now prohibited from open carrying firearms throughout Pennsylvania. So, just how does the Proclamation not “impact  citizens and their firearm rights,” Mr. Abbott?
The Great American Outdoors Show
As I discussed at length in my second article, there are grave concerns for the vendors and attendees of the Great American Outdoors Show, since all of them, absent an LTCF, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Anderson, would have to argue as a defense to prosecution their exemption under Section 6106(b). More importantly, almost all of the attendees and a number of the vendors, absent an LTCF, would not meet any of the exceptions found in Section 6106(b). Interestingly, the statement is completely devoid of any mention of the Great American Outdoors Show and how the Proclamation effects it.
Offer to Debate
Since the Governor’s Office felt it necessary to call into question my legal aptitude and I assume an apology will not be forthcoming to Senator (and future Governor) Scott Wagner and myself from the Govenor’s Office, I would welcome the opportunity to debate Governor Wolf on the effects of his Proclamation on the firearm rights of the citizens and visitors of the Commonwealth, but I would suggest that he first dust off his non-existent juris doctorate and brush up on the Uniform Firearms Act before the debate, especially since the law is clearly contrary to his Office’s statement.
Contact Governor Wolf’s Office
For those of you who value your inalienable rights, I would suggest that you contact (phone: 717-787-2500 and fax: 717-772-8284) the Governor’s Office and respectfully let them know that you do not appreciate your rights being infringed and their less-than-honest statements on the impact of the Proclamation in relation to your firearm rights. If Governor Wolf is such a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, as his Office is claiming, I anticipate that by Monday, at the latest, he will be calling upon the General Assembly to repeal 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107 and 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301(f)(8).
For those unaware, “interpretive jiggery-pokery” was utilized by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in King v. Burwell, the landmark decision on the Affordable Care Act, where he referred to some of the details in the case as “pure applesauce” and criticized the court’s “interpretive jiggery-pokery” analysis as the only way the Affordable Care Act could be found to be constitutional. Jigger-pokery describes dishonest manipulation or nonsense, akin to hocus pocus, humbug, bambosh, baloney, berley (among the Australians), bunkum, hogwash (also known as eyewash), flapdoodle, flim-flam, flumadiddle, rubbish, galbanum (coming from a French word for empty representations), hooey, hot air, motormouthing, poppycock or malarkey
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