Saturday, September 13, 2014

Of lethal weapons, the law, and old Quakers

A headline reads "Pa. police: 1 trooper dead, another injured in shooting." Apparently the shooter ambushed these cops. This news would have gone in one eye and out the other if I hadn't had the chance the other day to listen to Chester County officials explain how they deal with balancing the "right to bear arms" with protecting the public safety.

To this urban Californian, it did seem that gun enthusiasts might be getting a lot more consideration than the rest of us. But the highly civil discussion involving Sheriff Carolyn B. Welsh and West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta was informative. Who knew what the Pennsylvania State constitution says about guns?

"The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned."

Adopted in 1790, this standard seems just right for a state that within that decade provided the core of the Whiskey Rebellion against the new United States.

The elderly residents of the continuing care community where the discussion took place, many of them Quakers, mostly had no idea this was the law. Apparently police interpret the state standard to mean that a police officer may not approach or interrogate someone walking down a public street with a weapon, though they do run gun purchasers through the federal background check data base before allowing concealed gun carrying.

Sheriff Welsh's department seems populated with gun enthusiasts: last year they raffled off assault weapons to fund training for a canine unit.

Gun rights seem to be doing well in Pennsylvania -- safety, including safety for law enforcement, perhaps not so much so.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

The problem with every gun law I've yet to see proposed is it would take them away from lawabiding people. Those who would ambush police officers are not remotely going to give theirs up. And if you noticed, the killing of lawyers and police officers had happened a lot of places, off and on but part of a plan for anarchy here?

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