Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Because There is Nothing More Important to Legislate...

Over a couple month period at the end of this past year into the beginning of this year, the United States saw a spate of truly horrifying mass shootings, the sum of which have led to a movement to actually do something about gun laws in this country.  Conservatives, especially minions of the NRA have been waiting for the so-called "Connecticut Effect" to subside, but it's looking like gun control proponents are gaining steam, not going away.

The Conservative answer has been a numerous legislative efforts, not to work with what, at this point, is an overwhelming public desire to strengthen gun laws.  Instead state legislators the country over are busy trying to pass bills that would, in some cases, nullifying federal gun laws.  In other cases, states have attempted to pass legislation that would actually criminalize the enforcement of federal gun laws.   A conservative group called The Tenth Amendment Center has available on their website a generalized "2nd Amendment Protection Act", ready for legislators to use as their blank slate to "protect" themselves from federal gun laws.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe
States such as Missouri, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and South Carolina have had varying degrees of success thus far in enacting these ludicrous laws.  Are you living in Pennsylvania and feeling left out of the insanity?  Never fear!  Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is here!  On January 25, HB 357 was introduced to the House Judiciary Committee.  The bill has 72 co-sponsors, including our very own Rep. John D. McGinnis.  This shouldn't be surprising, considering that McGinnis thinks that the government's only responsibility is defense, even when that government is a state, not federal, government, and even when the constitution of said state does not agree with that view.  Two of the other noteworthy co-sponsors are We'll-Win-PA-for-Romney, Mike Turzai the truly awful, I mean...honorable...Kerry Benninghoff; so McGinnis is in really fantastic company.

What exactly would HB 357 seek to do?  It's essentially a carbon copy of all the other federal law-banning legislation out there.  The bill would provide that "any Federal law attempting to register, restrict or ban a firearm or limit the size of a magazine of a firearm in this Commonwealth shall be unenforceable in this Commonwealth."  And of course it provides for penalties.  In fact, it provides that any federal agent attempting to enforce a Federal gun law passed after December 31, 2012 will be committing a third degree felony and, if convicted of such, would be subject to imprisonment for up to one year.  Does anyone else see a problem with threatening to imprison Federal officers in the course of their duties?

But what about the innocent gun-law-violator who is also lucky enough to be a resident of the Commonwealth?  Well, they're in luck!  If a person violates a gun law passed after December 31, 2012, once HB 357 is passed, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania would be empowered to defend that person against Federal charges.  If you're rolling your eyes right now, know that you are not alone.

It is my hope that this legislation would go absolutely nowhere, but I will certainly be keeping an close eye on this bill to see where it goes.  If you're interested in checking out what's happening in the General Assembly and State Senate, I suggest you check out the website, Legiscan.  It's a great resource.