Lose Your Rights if You Don't Exercise Them: Tom Corbett Shows His Support for Gun Rights in Pennsylvania
What if every gun store in Pennsylvania was shut down on January 18, 2011? Did you know that anti-gun groups are actually testing the waters for such a proposal here in the Keystone State?
Every election year, we hear every candidate claim that this is the "most important election ever." Depending on the issues you care about, it may be true. Just one look at the legislative battle over Castle Doctrine should be a reminder to gun owners that even when we have overwhelming support, frustrating obstacles can get in the way of meaningful reform. This year, we have the power to change state government and get the reform we need in Pennsylvania.
Trusted pro-gun organizations such as Firearm Owners Against Crime and The National Rifle Association have issued endorsements that thousands of gun owners will use when they go to the polls. While PAFOA does not issue endorsements, our members did submit questions that we passed along to both gubernatorial candidates on the ballot in November to find out more about their views on various issues that gun owners face right now.
Only one candidate responded. This alone should speak volumes about the respect that any candidate will show to you as a constituent - let alone tens of thousands of constituents active with PAFOA.
Attorney General Tom Corbett took the time to respond to concerns about future legislative attacks, real crime policy concerns facing Pennsylvanians, and what he has done in his previous experience to support our Second Amendment rights. Here's a brief look at the messages he has for gun owners across Pennsylvania:
Lawful Sale of Firearms & Ammunition
CeaseFire PA sent their own questionnaires (PDF) to candidates earlier this year to test the waters for rather extreme policies - including closing down gun stores within an arbitrary, undefined distance of any school, daycare center, park, or residential area. This policy, brought to the national scene in 2008 by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's past support for it, would effectively shut down nearly every gun store in Pennsylvania. President Obama supported a ban on these small businesses within a 5-mile radius of any park or school. When testing the waters on this subject, Dan Onorato didn't exactly say no to the idea. CeaseFire PA merely listed him as "No Position."
Tom Corbett, on the other hand, recognized exactly what this would do to lawful businesses in Pennsylvania and made it clear he would not support such an extreme policy. He added: "Interference with the locations of responsible firearms retailers would not serve a public policy goal and could create an unnecessary inconvenience to sportsmen."
Gun Bans vs Current Enforcement
Political leaders in some urban areas of the state have called fore more restrictions on lawful firearms owners when crime spikes or makes headlines. We all know that gun bans wouldn't stop criminals intent on killing innocent people, but some politicians do take these bans seriously.
Tom Corbett was clear in his opposition to reviving bans styled on the Clinton Gun Ban of the 1990's, and it is a stark contrast to his opponent who voice enthusiastic support for a state-level ban and federal ban on firearms based on cosmetic features.
Going above and beyond the issue of gun bans, Corbett went straight to the heart of the crime problem and highlighted his own effective record on the issue: "As Attorney General, I formed a Gun Violence Task Force to target illegal firearms trafficking and straw purchasers in southeastern Pennsylvania. So far, that effort has netted nearly 500 arrests and seized nearly 1,000 firearms from suspects who illegally possessed or trafficked them. Effective prosecutors are necessary to ensure that the disposition of the criminal cases reflects the severity of the offense, but the entire community must also demand accountability from our judges to ensure that violent offenders are not continually permitted to reoffend."
Beyond Talk: The Practical Impact on Gun Owners
What stands out the most about Attorney General Corbett's answers may well be his reminder that he has had a very practical impact on the lives of Pennsylvania's gun owners. Sometimes we forget that these large issues do really influence our every day lives. For those who carry, for those looking to see criminals put behind bars, and those who celebrated with us in the landmark cases against gun bans in Washington, DC and Chicago, Tom Corbett has been working for us: "In addition to my commitment to combat violence by increased enforcement of current law, I have had the opportunity to protect 2nd Amendment rights by joining in the successful litigation against unconstitutional handgun restrictions in Washington, DC and Chicago. Since taking office I have also more than tripled Pennsylvania’s concealed carry reciprocity agreements. As governor, I will maintain my commitment to protecting constitutional rights and my support of Pennsylvania’s great sporting heritage."
Our Civic Duty
It is not only our right to vote in free elections, but our duty to be informed citizens when we cast our ballots on Election Day. Make sure that you show up to the polls on November 2, and please vote freedom first. Stand up for those who defend our rights.
Many groups who issue endorsements also have contacts to get involved in key races throughout Pennsylvania. If you've got an hour or two to dedicate to freedom this weekend, contact Firearm Owners Against Crime or the National Rifle Association to help turn out the vote for pro-rights candidates.